I’m a lonely gran – I lost £50,000 savings to Woody Harrelson lookalike on Plenty of Fish, now my ex has to bail me out | The SunJanuary 20, 2023
A WOMAN has been scammed out of more than £50,000 from a fake online lover who looked like Woody Harrelson.
Beth Ray, 55, met the man on dating app Plenty of Fish and after the romance sparked, money requests followed.
The software engineer claimed she is now “financially ruined” and has to get her ex-husband to bail her out.
Following their divorce, Beth tried to find love again but fell victim to a ruthless romance scam in July, last year.
She started chatting online with a man called Rodney, who was Woody Harrelson's ringer and supposedly a Lieutenant Colonel in the US Army.
The muscular army bloke sent her love letters on WhatsApp as well as making up a back story that he had an 11-year-old daughter and that his wife was killed in a car accident.
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As the romance ensued, he used his sob stories to bleed the woman of all her life savings.
Beth told Daily Star: "Altogether, including the iPhones I sent him, I lost about £53,000.
"I couldn’t believe I fell in love with a freaking fake person… I feel like an idiot.
"I am so upset because I was so in love with this guy and I believed every single thing he said to me and I am just devastated.
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"Now I realise he is never going to come and I am left in this horrible financial position which I don’t know if I will ever recover from."
Police are investigating the fraud claims.
Within two months of the online romance, Rodney started asking for money.
He claimed his wage was delayed and he needed about £240 because he had pals visiting for his birthday.
At first, Beth said no but in the following weeks, he wore her down.
And the reasons for money became more bizarre.
It started with Steam cards so he could play Call of Duty.
He then claimed he was a cybercrime agent and was being sent to Cyprus to track down an infamous ring of scammers.
But he claimed the reward was £242,000 for catching the crooks, which he would use to pay her back and retire.
In the interim, he needed money for hotels, food and car rentals and he managed to persuade Beth to hand over her bank details and take out huge loans.
He would also pay her back thousands in return in a bid to keep her onside before asking for even more.
Beth said: "He was very convincing and was very good at it.
"My guess is he has been doing this for a very long time because I don’t know how he kept his lies straight.
"It was always an urgent situation, he was so good at making excuses and telling me all these different stories and he would love-bomb me right before he asked for money and I was realising it was a pattern.
"Towards the end he kept telling me he was suicidal too, it was awful."
Rodney tried one last lie and said he was kidnapped in Chile and needed ransom money.
By now Beth was skint and emotionally exhausted.
She found the UK group ScamHaters United on Facebook and sent them pictures of the so-called Rodney.
ScamHaters found the real man whose identity had been stolen, who turned out to be a doctor based in Amsterdam.
In response to Beth's claims, Match Group, the parent company of Plenty of Fish, released a statement.
It read: "As these scams have gained popularity, Match Group has taken steps to help prevent and warn users of potential scams or fraud, from in-app product features to education and proactive popup messages.
"Over the last few years, Match Group introduced new features across the platform to help users confirm the user is the person in their profile picture with selfie verification and video chat so users could talk face to face before meeting in person.
"We have also built a moderation system that is a combination of utilizing AI and machine learning tools to help prevent and disrupt harm, as well as moderators to investigate reports from users.
"If a user contacts us to report concern, our team reviews the report and takes the necessary action to remove any inappropriate profile from our platform across Match Brands' portfolio."
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