A widow handed over tens of thousands of pounds and put her house up for sale after falling in love with an online fraudster.
Her son has spoken of his horror at discovering the con, which started back in March when the country was getting to grips with a national lockdown following the outbreak of coronavirus.
The woman, who is in her 60s and recently widowed, has been living on her own following the death of her husband, Wales Online reports.
Unbeknown to her son and the rest of the family, she met someone online while isolated from her family during lockdown.
Their relationship started through Facebook, and her son believes it could happen to anyone who is lonely and vulnerable and who might be desperate for company.
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The widower had been chatting with a man who called himself Mark Anderson. Conversations went on between the pair for weeks in a normal and friendly fashion.
Mark, who said he was a doctor, wanted to know everything about her but there was nothing about him that would immediately ring alarm bells.
Then he said that his account had been hacked and that they should move the conversation off Facebook and onto email.
Shortly after this, 'Mark Anderson' said he was having financial problems and needed money in order to come back to the UK so they could finally meet after months of getting to know each other online.
He even said he had an eight-year-old son named Richard, who began chatting with the woman too. It got to the stage where he called her 'mum' and said he that he loved her.
By this point, totally enthralled with 'Mr Anderson', the lonely woman agreed to offer support and transferred £10,000 into his account. Soon after she gave him thousands more.
By the time her family came to know about it, she had given him £61,500 — but that's not the worst part.
Having run out of money, she decided (or was coaxed) to put her house up for sale to raise even more funds.
Adamant that she wanted a quick sale, she agreed to sell her home for £109,000 cash – an amount her family claimed was far less than what it was originally valued at.
"Over the course of a few months this person asked a number of personal questions of my mother and by the end he had built a personal profile of her – he knew everything about her," revealed her son, who doesn't want his mother's name published but wants the story told so as to warn others.
"There were red flags along the way. He wanted her to get into Bitcoin but she said no because she didn't know anything about it, so she did have suspicions at certain points but she was fixated with this person.
"She was living on her own and she was vulnerable, she was lonely. She is easily led astray."
The "love affair" came to an end when the police came by after being alerted to strange activity on the woman's bank account. They broke the devastating news: she'd been the victim of a romance fraud.
"She was absolutely devastated because, in her eyes, she was in love with a real person, whom she had got to know over months and months," her son said.
The police are currently investigating the matter and the woman's family are trying to cancel the proposed sale of her house with an estate agent on the grounds that it was done under duress and as the result of being a victim of fraudulent activity.
Dyfed-Powys Police said romance fraud has cost people more than £1.3m in its force area alone, and that it is "a particularly cruel crime" which "takes advantage of people's need for affection".
The victim's son is now trying his best to repair his mother's life after it was ripped apart by someone she never met; someone who, at least in the way she saw him, never even existed.
"These people prey on the elderly and the vulnerable," he said.
"He even said to her things like 'don't tell your kids about this'. He didn't want anyone else to know because he knew we would see straight through it.
"It's disgusting. The questions these people ask are so personal and they are able to really get into someone's head.
"The scary thing is it's very professionally done. They've clearly done it before and they'll do it again.
"They're probably doing it to someone right now."
If you have concerns about a relationship, or fear you or someone you know has been a victim of romance fraud, you should contact your local police force by calling 101.
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