back to article 419ers strip lonely heart mum of £80k

A divorced mother of three was taken for £80,000 by 419ers posing as a US soldier, the Daily Mail reports. Kate Roberts, 47, of Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, was hooked when she posted a profile on Friends Reunited Dating in October 2009. She was soon "exchanging emails with a man calling himself Sergeant Ray Smith and …


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  1. Cameron Colley

    I just hope the father can look after the kids.

    Since she seemed more bothered about netting some hunk than the roof over her head.

    Yes, I know it's easy to be fooled when you're needy, but a parent paying what they could not afford to a new lover is pathetic.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Is it really as easy as saying "I've got no money, please send me 12K"?

    1. Wize

      Basically, but you've got to run the con a bit longer.

      If requests sound reasonable at first. A couple of quid for ciggies to start with. A bit more for a phone card. A little something to get the daughter a present. Step it up a bit at a time by reasonable jumps and you can get away with asking for the big money.

      I'm surprised they stopped. But then they probably knew there was nothing left to cover the cost of the phone calls.

  3. Peter Kay

    On the one hand you have to feel a little sorry for them..

    ..on the other hand, handing money - any money - to someone you've never met? Really?

    Clue : it's not love if it isn't mutual, you've not met them and the 'love' hasn't actually been tested.

    Also, cue unrealistic expectations.. Real person locally that requires compromise, or fantasy that doesn't exist elsewhere. hmmm...

  4. Tony S

    So sad

    No doubt there are plenty of people that are willing to heap scorn upon this woman for being so foolish. It's a natural reaction; but is it fair?

    The fact is that these foul people pray upon the weak and vulnerable; the elderly, the ill, the young, the poor, the lonely simply because they are such easy targets. One day, one of those labels could be applied to anyone of us, and we might then find ourselves the victim of people that are as equally unscrupuless as these scumbags. Hopefully, we will then find that there are other that are willing to assist, rather than just poke fun.

    "Laugh and the world laughs with you; cry, and the world laughs at you"

    Mine's the one with the hairshirt ling.

    1. Sarev

      That's true

      I was recently over-charged by a taxi driver on the way to the airport by £5 and it took several phone calls to get it back.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Tony S

      "One day, one of those labels could be applied to anyone of us, and we might then find ourselves the victim of people that are as equally unscrupuless as these scumbags"

      We already have been, every single one of us has been screwed by the bankers.

  5. Mike 68

    Sad story but...

    i think she wanted to believe it, even though it surely must have obviously been not true. I mean, £20000 for leave passes. Whoever heard of paying to get leave from the army? Desperation, of any sort, drives people to do some very stupid things.

  6. PaulWizard

    I want to feel sorry for her.....

    but I can't. Fool and their money ay :|

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      >Fool and their money

      Or just possibly severely depressed after a painful divorce and looking for a light at the end of the tunnel.

  7. lotus49
    Thumb Down

    Pretty sad

    I'm with Tony S. It's easy for us, educated, intelligent and (at least in some of our cases) happily settled with a partner to cry fool.

    People who are unhappy and who hope for something better are often blind to what most people would see through. The fact is that many (amazingly many) people have been fooled and the scum who deceive them are preying on their triumph of hope over experience.

    419 baiting is good fun for us, but let's not forget that these people have wrecked a lot of lives - I hate them.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A sad story, and a cautionary tale of sorts.

    Though I do feel sorry for her, there were a couple red flags that she shouldn't have ignored "because she felt in love". Yes it's hard, but if you don't, some wily bunch from a faraway country will manage to part you and your money.

    And really, it's the simple things, like not being able to tell what the job is for security reasons. That means he's got a job, and likely a well-paying one at that -- the more secretive, the better paid. So he ought to pick her up with a limo instead of begging her for monies. Having to pay twenty grand for "leave passes"? Tell it to the press and they'll explode. So that can't be true. And so on, and so forth.

    Of course it's easy dissecting the flaws from afar. On the other hand, she probably felt lonely and desperately wanted this new love thing to be true. I've been asked to join a pyramid scheme basically because, well, one of the guys touting it to me believed in it because his situation, financial and otherwise, drove him to believe that it worked. I did some background research on the scheme and determined that indeed it _was_ a pyramid scheme, then dissected his arguments. That is likely close to impossible once you've already accepted "love" as the overriding argument. And with enough attention it probably doesn't take much skill to keep the illusion going, seeing how the will, even need, to believe was there already.

    So before you let yourself fall in love, perhaps meet in person first, minimum?

  9. Ball boy

    A parallel?

    Change 'US Soldier' for 'software house' and 'lonely housewife' for 'application implementation engineer' and I think you'll find we're all gullible to shelling out for something that, if we really had our head screwed on, we would't have believed in for a minute.

    Yeah, I'm making fun but there's a problem here that we experts should concern ourselves with: not everyone can tell fact from fiction as easily as others and aren't professionals the very people the vulnerable rely on for protection?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sad story? Yes, but...

    "I did have doubts, but everything he told me sounded reasonable and I was in love"

    So she had a hinch but decided "what the hell, it's worth the bet"? She just killed the bit of compassion I would have had if she just admitted being mentally incapacitated.

    "Aside from losing the money I feel like I’ve lost the love of my life"

    And your house, you forgot your house.

    Tony said: "One day, one of those labels could be applied to anyone of us, and we might then find ourselves the victim of people that are as equally unscrupuless as these scumbags."

    Errr, I don't think I know anyone being mentally challenged enough to part off $80K with no questions asked... or at least not sufficiently answered. The truth is scamming has been there long before us and will be there long after us, and only people gullible enough to fall for the same old outrageously suspect schemes will keep on falling for it.

  11. ratfox

    "Hundreds of other women must be getting conned right now"

    I believe that actually few are as gullible...

  12. TkH11


    I disagree with your POV. I have absolutely no sympathy for this woman,

    The fact is, there have been high profile cases of exactly this kind of scam which have hit the national headlines recently. I very much doubt she failed to see these headlines.

    Secondly, most of the dating sites have explicit statements plastered on their webpages telling members never to send money to anyone.

    Thirdly, she gave away money she couldn't afford to give away. Whether in love or not, you never, ever do that.

    Fourthly, this guy kept calling her and she never checked the phone number of where he was calling from,until *after* contact suddenly stopped. If she'd checked before she handed over any money, she'd have suspected something wasn't alledged American calling from Nigeria.

    She failed to even the most basic checks on this guy before handing over large sums of money.

    She was foolish. It seems to me that no matter how much the media (and the dating websites themselves) publicise this kind of scam, there's always people out there that fall for it.

    My current girlfriend was subjected to the same kind of scam, this guy kept calling her up, night and day, pestering her, wanting money. She checked the phone number, discovered it was West Africa, refused to answer the phone to his mobile number, so the guy started using another number, but it was still from Nigeria. She ended up contacting BT who blocked all calls to her from Nigeria. Persistent little bugger.

    A few basic checks and she realised what was going on.

    1. Elmer Phud


      "The fact is, there have been high profile cases of exactly this kind of scam which have hit the national headlines recently. I very much doubt she failed to see these headlines."

      "Ah, but this time it will be different, I will trust in my heart''

    2. takuhii

      What if?

      Maybe SHE is the Nigerian scammer, wanting us to give her £80k, becuase a "nigerian scammer" ripped her off, or so she says...

      1. William Towle

        Re: What if?

        > Maybe SHE is the Nigerian scammer, wanting us to give her £80k, becuase a "nigerian scammer" ripped her off, or so she says...

        It wouldn't surprise me if there was a scam along those lines at some point either, but I don't think this is it.

        Metro's angle ( supports the "genuine victim out to help others" hypothesis better, elaborating "‘What I am most worried about is that I emailed him pictures of myself and my children,’ Ms Roberts, 47, told the BBC’s Inside Out – South programme. ‘I have no idea if those pictures are now being used by the gang to con other people out of money.’"

    3. Tony S


      You are entitled to your POV - and I have no problem at all with you making it. But I would respond to a couple of the points.

      It doesn't matter how many high profile cases there are, people believe that "it won't happen to me". This is why PT Barnum made his money - he knew that all you need to con people is to make it a bit believable and then keep them dangling. The same is true of all frauds, whatever the circumstances. The same is true in other situations as well - that is just people for you.

      As for notices on web sites, there are road signs all over the country - yet people still drive faster than the speed limit. People ignore red lights, warnings about safety. People ignore signs - that's life.

      People part with equally large sums of money in other scams - they shouldn't, but they do. Have you ever bought your girlfriend some flowers or chocolate, even though you couldn't really afford it? Most people have. (Slightly larger scale admittedly.)

      How many times do you check the number of someone that has called you to take part in a "survey" - a common ploy in social engineering (Read "Art of Deception" by K Mitnick)

      Do you keep all the receipts for your credit card payments to check against the monthly bill? 99.99% of people don't. People are too trusting and the scammer know this, which is why they get away with it.

      There is no doubt that she was foolish. But she doesn''t need to have her nose rubbed in it, that will achieve nothing (other than possibly making you feel superior?). The fact is, we could all fall foul of a con at some time in our life - no-one is invulnerable. Which would you prefer; to have people offer sympathy or just take the piss out of you?

    4. Colin Miller

      070 personal number

      TkH11> Fourthly, this guy kept calling her and she never checked the phone number of where he was calling from.

      Or perhaps the lad from lagos used an 070 personal number, which allows you to make and receive phone calls to/from that number. A lot of spams I get use +44 70 ...... Most people think that UK 07x is for mobiles only, but there are a few other uses for numbers in that range.

      Or, if it was a US number, there are *no* mobile number prefixes (they use the area-code for the phone's home area, and you pay to receive). US personal numbers use 700-xxx-yyyy. Would you have known this?

  13. JC 2

    Remember Something

    If 10% of the population is mentally ill, all the scammers need is an average of 10 calls and a little skill to hook and reel someone in. The sad part? The mere chance of love with this fake-man was worth more to her than her life savings.

    That's how it goes, some of the mentally ill build walls around themselves that keep others away then look back and would do ANYTHING for some companionship.

  14. Dangermouse

    You are all shits.

    1. The lady in question was not a techie - i.e. not readily aware of these scams. I am fairly sure she is not the CTO for Microsoft.

    2. She was divorced, lonely, and looking at profiles on a dating site - i.e. wanted another human being to communicate with.

    3. Mum of 3 - so has very low expectations of *actually" meeting anyone, let alone someone who says "I think I love you" or, indeed, "I love you".

    4. Our Hero sends false pictures and bollocks about serving in Iraq. She is hooked.

    5. About 98% of you reading this have never served in an operational theatre - apart from "CoD BlAcK oPs - Ki113r SniP3r LOZZss!!ZZZ".

    Think Northern Ireland / IRA / Op Granby / Op Telic / Op Palliser / Kosovo / actual people who want to shoot you / blow you up / murder you by any means.*

    *delete as applicable

    If you are doing any job in *any* operational theatre then you *do not* talk about that job unless you are either very thick or very stupid. I would say Our Hero knew this and mentioned this to her. I refer you to Point 5.

    6. Our Hero even posted pictures of a "daughter" of his. She thinks that he is, perhaps, maybe combining the family.

    7. The 20k document thing. US soldiers in Iraq are typically on a tour for either 12 or 18 months. Without knowing the contents of their emails - maybe, just maybe Our Hero suggested that he could not get to she her (due to the aforementioned rule) without bribing somebody and getting earlier leave to she her.

    8. In *my* conclusion...

    This is a very, very sad example of manipulation. The lady in question does not deserve your ridicule, indeed any ridicule. She was decieved in a wholly inhumane way by Our Hero, who prayed upon a lonely, middle-aged, naive lady by posing as a lonely soldier in a war zone in a way to garner money by deception.

    A really, really, really shitty deception.

    The other sad thing about this?

    People shouting....




    I weep for humanity.

    I really, really do.

    1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: You are all shits.

      He's right. Have a goddamn heart.

    2. HFoster

      Here's the thing...

      She's a mother of 3. In my family experience, a divorced/widowed parent with three children of any age ought to have plenty to keep them occupied.

      Not to mention family and friends. Then again, I'm projecting. I know not everyone has a family as painfully nosey as mine who won't let anyone fall through the cracks, because they're so deep in your business that extracting them is harder than finding bin Laden. Even though they can be annoying, I love them for it.

      Still, I'm surprised a rat wasn't smelled. Couldn't she have googled stuff like "US Army Leave Pass price"? (first result: - an official US Army web FAQ) You don't need to be a techie to have a healthy sense of curiosity about the things people say.

    3. Cameron Colley


      You don't have to be a techie to know not to give money to a stranger. I know of computer-illiterate people in their 60s who would know this for the scam it is.

      That said, I have some modicum of sympathy for her if her kids have left home or live with their dad. If it's the roof over their heads she's lost then she's worse than the scammer -- you do not sell your kids out for anything ever.

    4. Knochen Brittle

      Moral bankruptcy precedeth the fiscal kind...

      People conditioned to reflexively presume that our war-criminals = heroes have far greater problems than monetary losses to worry about, thus this female sucker serves as a parade example for the induced ignorance in British society at large, which seemingly dooms it to be bled white by seductive 'elite' misleaders for butcheries abroad in pursuit of some impossible imperialist fantasies.

      The 419ers are only there to clean the bones after the governmental T-Rex has gorged his fill on this Brontosaurus called the public mind.

  15. Fuh Quit

    Fail, Fail, Fail. Fail. Fail!

    Hang on, the woman dropped 80 grand on this guy and, even if they were going to be together forever, her house was gone whatever happens. If the guy was real and needed the money then he ain't minted either.

    Fail 1. US soldier met by friendsreunited which is a UK-based schoolfriend stalking site?

    Fail 2a. Sending money that you don't have to someone you never met?!

    Fail 2b. Sending money via Western Union to your Beau

    Fail 3. Loving a person you've never met. Seriously!

    Fail 4. Publicising your stupidity.

    She might be right about the hundreds though - there are plenty of stupid people on the Internet and many more looking for these people. I assume it's not that common as, like when you have only 2 brain cells, it takes a while for them to collide :-D

    1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Fail, Fail, Fail. Fail. Fail!

      Yeah, it's really dumb to try and help others learn from your mistakes. Duhhhh.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Fail 4. Publicising your stupidity.

      Hoping for a donation from a sympathetic philanthropist?

  16. Oliver 7

    One born every minute

    Sorry, if you get fooled by a Nigerian putting on an American accent, don't carry out the most basic checks and blithely sign your life savings away to someone you've never even met you don't deserve an ounce of sympathy. What a total choob!

    I do hope she wised up and got some money back for the ignominy of publicising her story.

  17. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  18. Leona A

    can't help but

    Feel sorry for her, it must have been awful when she realised what had happened.

    It isn't only done online, it is done in real life too, have you seen the cases in the news of incidents like this, its sadly not uncommon, but the first time I've seen this type of thing, with a 'gang' doing it.

    The word I would like to use for this gang isn't printable, but they are nothing short of weak cowards who only have the ability to pray on the vulnerable.

    Everyone is looking for that fairy tail relationship aren't they? We all want love, so what price are you prepared to pay for it, if you think this is what you will get at the end, I can easily see how this happened, I can see how I could have been in a similar situation.

    Its so easy to mock and say nasty things, always easy to spot the mistake After it has happened, but just think about it, put yourself in her position for a minute and just think, what would you do, now much would you give for that perfect dream?

    Sadly the old saying applies, "if something looks too good to be true, it usually is."

    1. Oliver 7

      Er... Fairies have tails?!

      "just think, what would you do"

      That's the fundamental point!

    2. Peter Kay

      Actually, no, we're not all looking for that

      Fairytales don't exist in 99% of cases - if that's what someone expects, they need a severe hitting from a cluebat. It's perhaps reasonable, if optimistic, to want someone who fits into your life without compromises you'd rather not make.

      Of course, this worked because it wasn't a fairytale - it's a situation where there must have been some (manufactured) common ground, and the ability for the woman to 'help' and provide some commitment to the 'relationship'.

      How much time and money would I give up front? Not too much time if I hadn't met them, and no money. If I had met them, giving money is one of the fastest ways to break friendships and relationships..

  19. BossHog

    I feel sorry for her

    Poor lady - even now you can tell she is more upset about losing the bloke than she is about losing the money! The disappointment and loss of happiness must be truly crushing.

    Never underestimate the frailty of a vunerable human spirit, nor the cruelty of others.

    There but for the grace of science, go I.

  20. Patrick R

    Not that funny in real life.

    Catherine Tates show, anyone ?

  21. Anonymous Coward


    A fool and their money...

    It is one thing to lose a few hundred quid, but 80k?!!! No sympathy for her what so ever.

    Her children on the other hand, that is a different kettle of fish.

  22. Rich 30


    £80,000 !?!

    At what point do you think its a bit fishy.

    Its clearly a sad tale of a mentall ill woman, for that reason i feel very sorry for her. What will interpol, or the nigerian officials do about this?

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