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However, he never arrived, claiming he had been prevented from leaving Nigeria because of an unpaid tax bill.
Two weeks later, he called again saying he was unable to pay the bill because his money was tied up in the UK – and asked for her help.'When he spoke he had a slight South African accent, which I found quite endearing.
Online dating and finding love and new friends via the internet is here to stay.
Subscribers should proceed with caution, understand the risk, and get a background check when necessary.
" But to my mind, I had developed a trust with this person.'Mrs Fowkes, who has two grown-up sons, first began writing to Hawkins in April 2010 after joining a dating website.
He told her that while he was living in Britain, he was currently doing engineering work in Nigeria.
They exchanged messages and she even spoke several times on the phone to a man claiming to be her online date.
Because criminals are experts at gaining victims' trust, experts say a professional international private investigator is often required to minimize the risk.
We talked about everything under the sun – families, relationships, hobbies, interests, pets, our past.
I completely trusted him.'Mrs Fowkes only realised something was wrong when police turned up on her doorstep in November 2010.
But even if they had I would have dismissed it because I trusted him.'Robin Longmore, a financial intelligence development officer for West Mercia Police, said he was unable to reveal how police knew Mrs Fowkes was being conned.
But he added: 'These scams are becoming increasingly common and can be incredibly sophisticated.
Take your time and be skeptical of any request for money, such as emergencies, etc.