Romance Scam Warning
Last week, a Sydney mother was sentenced to three and half years behind bars for swindling more than $2 million from seven victims who she had met through dating services.
Sanaa Derbas last year pleaded guilty to 11 fraud-related offences after tricking the seven victims into lending her money which she used to fund her gambling and cocaine habits, and to build a house.
Between 2008 and 2014, the Sydney mother of four told the men she had a wealthy Egyptian grandfather but in order to receive his wire transfers she needed money for taxes, bank charges and solicitor’s fees.
Using a series of aliases, 15 phones and online dating services, she spun a web of lies which left one man with just $20 in his bank account and another unable to pay for his children’s school fees.
Derbas told one man her young son had died of swine flu, while she requested money from others to pay for her dead mother’s funeral.
Judge Paul Conlon said “The victims were all simple men who lost sums of money that was, of course, significant to them.”
Small comfort to the men involved that they saw their perpetrator jailed for her crimes… that brings us to Jan Marshall.
Jan met “Eamon” who claimed to be a British civil engineer living in the US. Pretty soon Jan was being “bombed with love” as she says with email and text messages several times a day. Eventually Jan thought she could spend the rest of her life with “Eamon”.
By the time she realised she had been conned, she had sent $250,000 to him, including money she had illegally withdrawn from her Self Managed Super Fund. Adding insult to injury, the ATO is asking her to pay back around $70,000 for removing the money from her SMSF.
Delia Rickard is the Deputy Chair of the ACCC and when we spoke to her recently on the Daily Drive Radio Show, she told us that it’s usually women who are conned with so-called “dating scams” and the 45-54 age demographic is most affected.
Scamwatch is reporting that more than $1.3 million has been lost in January 2017 alone.
If you have been scammed, Jan has set up a support group called romancescamsurvivor.org and you can hear Jan’s heart-wrenching interview here.