QUEENSLAND police have issued an urgent warning following an investigation which has uncovered a disturbing development in an online romance scam.
It comes after officers from the Financial and Cyber Crime Group charged a 32-year-old Durack man overnight, after he allegedly defrauded a woman he met on social media of more than $200,000.
The victim, a 34-year-old Brisbane woman, contacted police after becoming suspicious of the man, who claimed to be a United States soldier.
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“It is alleged the victim befriended a man on a social media platform in October 2018. Over the course of the following months the victim was groomed into believing the stories provided by the criminal and formed an online romantic relationship,” Qld police said.
“The victim sent over $200,000 to the “U.S Soldier” via a series of transfers through a money transfer service.”
Detective Superintendent Terry Lawrence said that while this is becoming more and more frequent, it’s “what came next that caused us concern.”
“The concerning twist is that the offender travelled to the victim’s home to obtain more money, this time over $105,000,” Detective Lawrence said.
“Yesterday detectives conducted a tactical operation which lead to the interception and arrest of the offender whilst he was attempting to induce the victim to hand over more money.”
The 32-year-old man was charged with one count each of fraud and attempted fraud, however investigations are ongoing.
The man is due to appear in the Brisbane Magistrates Court today.
The incident has prompted police to warn people about the scam, which is common worldwide.
“The U.S Army Criminal Investigation Command receives hundreds of complaints a month from people who find themselves involved in an online relationship with someone purporting to be a U.S Soldier,” police said.
“Usually the offenders interaction with the victim is all online so this further step of traveling to the victim’s home is certainly something we need the public to hear and be warned of today.
“I encourage anyone using social media platforms to develop friendships or relationships online to maintain control at all times. I know emotions may make that harder but arm yourself with the knowledge that these scams are occurring to everyday members of the community like you.”