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4 Wednesday, August 14, 2019 04:21

EXPOSED: The gangs who fleece lonely widows in just the latest twist to the online fraud epidemic

With his chiselled jaw and toned physique — gained courtesy of heroic peacekeeping missions in Syria — hes every womans dream.But, in reality, thats all he is: a fantasy, woven by callous online fraudsters to extort a fortune from British women.The man is just one of the weapons cynically deployed by a sophisticated criminal gang who, the Mail can reveal, take a staggering £50million a year from their female victims.





The fantasy... and the reality: Josh Porters picture (left) is used by scammers like Obinwanne Umunna (right)Indeed, U.S. Army paratrooper Josh Porter — currently the holder of the unwanted title of most impersonated online account — has been used in 9,000 fake social media profiles by scammers relentlessly targeting British women.

Using apps and software to change everything from their voices to the location of their computers, they dupe the brightest of women.Oxford-educated Jean Soriano was so traumatised by the deception — in her case, from a scammer claiming to be a U.S. Army chaplain calling himself James Sean Eckert — that she lost her job and tried to commit suicide.

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.. Share this article Share HOW THIS IS MONEY CAN HELP Have you been scammed? Check out the tricks fraudsters are using to stay safe I fell for him. I fell into his trap and he destroyed my life, says Miss Soriano, 47. It was the first time since my father died in 1989 that Id felt safe and wanted and loved.

Ive never felt love like it.Meanwhile, a retired primary school teacher — who asked to remain anonymous — told the Mail shed lost £30,000 after being brainwashed by a scammer who groomed her for two years.A romance scam is now reported every three hours in Britain. One UK-based support group says an extraordinary 300 victims a day come forward in what it describes as an unseen epidemic, with each victim losing an average of £11,145.

Afghanistan veteran Josh Porter says he gets 30 messages a day from women who track down his real profile to confront him about being fleeced or because they believe hes their true love. Around half, he says, are from the UK.British women seem especially susceptible, he explains.

Con: A typical message to a victimSo who is charming them into handing over their life savings? Behind the photos are a ruthlessly organised gang of Nigerian criminals — nicknamed the Yahoo Boys, after the search engine that first provided free email accounts.

.They spend years grooming victims, targeting older women lonely after divorce or bereavement. Widow is a key word they search for on social media.Yahoo Boys work in teams or cells, some based in Britain. Up to 40-strong, these.....


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