The Fraud Help Desk received 639 reports of dating fraud last year. Of these, 259 people were actually victims, including Harry. He transferred a total of 31,000 euros to his online sweetheart, who did not show up at Schiphol.
"We were going to get married. I had already bought the rings. I would pick her up at Schiphol and ask her to marry him. I had bought a huge teddy bear with a T-shirt that said: Will you marry me . When she did not come, she collapsed I in."
The 57 year old
“My friends caught me. "Harry where the hell did you end up?" Harry Kelderhuis
became a victim of dating fraud in 2019. Just separated and in need of contact, he created a profile on a dating site for people over 50 in September 2019. He came into contact with a woman who was very interested in him.
"Pretty soon she tactically tried to find out everything about me. Whether I had a owner-occupied home, how much money was in my account. But she couldn't video chat. Of course those were big red flags, but I completely kicked in. I was very vulnerable after my divorce, I was the perfect victim. I fell for it with open eyes. "
"Offenders work in a very sophisticated way"
Tanya Wijngaarde, spokesperson for the Fraud Help Desk, says that the perpetrators of dating fraud are very sophisticated. "The perpetrators spend months, sometimes years in contact with their victims. They pose as the ideal man or woman, send sweet messages every day and sometimes even send flowers to them."
She says that the victims fall in love with the perpetrators and transfer money to them in the belief that they will get it back at some point. It was just the same with Harry.
"She said she was a widow," says Harry. "That her husband, who died seven years ago, owned a plastic factory that she had now inherited. She had renovated the factory with her savings and wanted to sell it now. Only after the renovation did she have any money left. She asked me for money to buy a license to sell the factory. She had no friends or relatives - she only had me - so I gave her 2,000 euros. "
"After the sale of the factory she would have millions and come to me. But the sale was not over yet, so she asked me if I could send her money to come to the Netherlands. At that moment I was in the middle of a divorce and sale of my house, when it was finished I could send her money, until then she was in an expensive hotel in Dubai, and after selling my house she sent me the bill: 26,000 euros. transferred. "
A broken heart and 31,000 euros lighter
At the end of November she would come to Schiphol. I would come and pick her up. I had bought a very large bear with a T-shirt that said: Will you marry me ? and I had a T-shirt made with her name on it. We would immediately go on holiday to Rome together. There I would officially ask her to marry him. I had already bought the rings. "
On the day she would arrive, Harry was informed that she would not arrive. She was arrested at the airport in Dubai, she wrote, because her husband had not paid his taxes. Whether Harry could still transfer 25,000 euros.
"I collapsed completely. My friends caught me." Harry where the hell did you end up? They were shocked that I had given her so much money, a total of 31,000 euros. I then immediately reported this to the police and went to Rabobank. They still tried to get the money back, but it failed. "
That's how you recognize dating fraud
The Fraud Help Desk outlines a number of scenarios that hint at scams. The more of the features below you recognize in your dating partner, the more likely you are to be scammed.
- Your dating partner is foreign, often English or American, but other nationalities also occur.
- Your dating partner (often a man) is a soldier or an entrepreneur who is in the dating industry, for example.
- Your dating partner is often in Africa, Turkey or the Middle East due to his or her position, although Asia and the Gulf of Mexico are also well-known examples.
- Your dating partner acts like the knight on the white horse or your dream princess.
- Your dating partner promises to come to you, but will encounter problems.
- He / she cannot access his / her money due to circumstances.
- Your dating partner must first solve (financial) problems in that distant country. For example, he or she ends up in the hospital just before his or her departure to the Netherlands and must pay the bill, but due to circumstances this is not possible.
- Your dating partner has (a view of) a large sum of money, diamonds or gold but needs your help to unlock that.
- Your dating partner asks if he / she can send you his or her valuables due to circumstances. You must then make a payment for the shipment or receipt of these items.