Online romance fraudster leaves Chichester pensioner penniless

A 77-year-old woman who was left penniless after falling victim to romance fraud has spoken out about her experience.

Pauline McIntosh, of Barlow Road, Chichester, said she was ‘almost suicidal’ after she lost more than £2,000 when she fell in love with a scammer in an online game.

Pauline with her phone. Picture by Kate Shemilt

Pauline with her phone. Picture by Kate Shemilt

Pauline had been playing the online game Words with Friends when she started a conversation with the person she was playing.

“I’m trying to get it across and trying to help not get in the position that I did. He showed me a video of an oil rig that he was supposedly involved with and said he worked on an oil rig and a crane collapsed and all the equipment went into the sea — and then it went from there.”

The man asked Pauline to lend him money so he could buy some new tools.

Two weeks into the pair’s relationship, Pauline said she began sending him money. She described it as a ‘lovely relationship’ and they seemed to have some things in common and there had even been talks about engagement.

“We were just finding out about each other, I did fall in love with him, it took me a month. He said he lost his wife and I had lost my husband. It’s hard to explain, you feel like such a blooming idiot. He just kept wanting more money.”

Eventually, Pauline’s daughters found out what was going on when they clicked on the man’s picture and tracked down the origins of the picture he was using.

“My daughters knew I was talking to him but I never told them I was giving him money or that I was borrowing money to pay him money. It was all the money I actually had — I was left penniless.

"Every time there was an excuse I always swallowed it. I never doubted it and I would still be involved if it wasn’t for my daughters. I was almost suicidal and if it wasn’t for my daughters I don’t know what I would have done.”

Police are investigating the incident and have advised Pauline to change her mobile number.