Romance scammers stole £15k from South Yorkshire dad and threatened to rape his daughter

Romance scammers fleeced a South Yorkshire dad out of GBP15,000 he’d saved up for his funeral – and threatened to rape his daughter. Retired truck driver Ivan (not his real name) met a woman called ‘Hilary’ from London on a dating site three years ago. Ivan and ‘Hilary’ began to exchange romantic messages via Google Hangouts and Whatsapp, rather than the dating site’s messaging service where potential romance scams are monitored.

‘Hilary’ soon began asking for money for reasons which became increasingly bizarre, even once claiming she needed cash to get a friend, who had been smuggling gold bars, out of jail. Ivan, 63, began sending money via Western Union transfer and Apple gift cards which are difficult to trace and therefore favoured by fraudsters. To get the latest email updates from South Yorkshire Live, click here .

When his savings ran out, Ivan, who has lived alone for several years, took out a loan to continue to send money to ‘Hilary’. The scammers then began making threats, saying they would find his daughter Kelly and rape her. Ivan, who has lung disease and struggles to walk long distances, suffered a panic attack, became unable to breathe and ended up in hospital.

Kelly, from Doncaster, said: “My dad’s just turned 63 but he looks so much older because he has COPD. He isn’t well at all and the money he had – it’s really sad to say – was for his funeral. “Now he hasn’t even got a car because he couldn’t afford to keep it, he can’t walk very far and he lives in a tiny flat so his quality of life has plummeted…

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“He gave all his money away and then ended up getting a loan to give to this person.

Now he is trying to save up for a car but I think by the time he gets one he will be too frightened to drive as he has become really anxious. “He ended up in hospital because of all this. One of these people contacted him and he started to panic and had to go to hospital because he couldn’t breathe.

“They were starting to threaten him and said they were going to find me and rape me. I’m not scared by them – they’re probably in a different country anyway – but it’s disgusting. It’s heartbreaking that some people can do this kind of thing to someone.

It’s so wrong.” Kelly is now sharing her dad’s story on Valentine’s Day to warn singles of romance scams. Andy Foster, South Yorkshire Police ‘s Fraud Protect Officer, helps victims of such swindles.

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Andy said: “It’s horrendous that people like Ivan are being targeted by these criminals right here in South Yorkshire.

These fraudsters are the lowest of the low. They will prey on people’s loneliness and vulnerabilities, and take advantage of their kindness and generosity. “This Valentine’s Day, if you have a loved one who may be vulnerable to this type of scam, please make sure you speak to them about the dangers.

The fraudsters are often based abroad and almost impossible to trace, so it’s important people know what to do to keep themselves safe.

“You can protect yourself by avoiding giving away too many personal details to a stranger online, never sending money to someone you’ve only ever met online, and messaging potential love interests through reputable sites’ messaging services.”

To report a romance scam or for advice on it visit Action Fraud or call 0300 123 2040.

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