A new form of romance fraud has surfaced and criminals are convincing vulnerable people to purchase mobile phones on their behalf so they can rack up enormous charges.

Most of us have heard the horror stories of how romance fraud starts. The fraudster contacts an unsuspecting person and constructs an elaborate online romance with them.

Romance fraudsters are adding a new twist to their con that authorities have recently discovered. They convince their online victims to purchase expensive mobile phones on their behalf.

The phones are then sold or hired out by the romance fraud artist incurring huge phone bills. The victim has to pay the charges as the phone is under their name. Sometimes this can be thousands of pounds.

One victim paid out in excess of £30,000 to her online fraudster. She knew the truth about her fraudster but paid anyway because of the shame.

Another recent victim purchased seven iPhones from the local supermarket on behalf of the fraudster and paid for the delivery charges to America. 

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The online fraudster carefully constructs a loving relationship with a victim over a period of months or years. Then the phone scam is put into action.

Face to face visits are always at a point in the near distant future and constantly dangled like a carrot. Gifts are always items that can be sent through the post to avoid any meetups.

Of course, they never get to see each other and this process can go on until the victim no longer has any money left to give them.

Romance fraud victims believe that the money they are sending is needed for things like family illness. This is all part of the elaborate story that the fraudster carefully constructs.

Online fraudsters take advantage of the lonely and vulnerable in our society.  They are highly manipulative and leave victims with a loss of finance and often great shame.

They lose their sense of self-worth and identity.
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Let someone know if a stranger builds an online romantic relationship with you and asks for money. Terminate contact with this person and talk to a relative or even the police.

Online fraudsters depend on your secrecy to enable their fraud. You can get help from the national victim support office if you have been a victim of online romance fraud.