Secretary loses her life savings to the husband who never was

Jordanian woman is duped out of Dh110,000 by an African man she planned to marry.

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ABU DHABI // A secretary was swindled out of her life savings by a man she planned to marry after they met on the internet. The 42-year-old Jordanian woman, identified by Abu Dhabi Police only as N, was duped out of Dh110,000 (US$29,000) by the African man, officers said yesterday. She had met the man through a dating website and agreed to marry him. "She was looking for a husband," police said. "After a few days, their relationship became strong, they talked about love and started planning for the future."

According to police, the man told the woman that he was a widowed American. His conditions for marriage included N looking after his son, whose mother died giving birth, and N moving to the United States to live with him. She consented. "After she sent him the money, he switched off his mobile and stopped all communications," said Col Dr Rashid Mohammed Bu Rashid, the head of the organised crime unit.

Col Bu Rashid said N sent the Dh110,000 in instalments to different accounts in different countries. She told police the amount was all she had - "the savings of many years of work". She also borrowed Dh5,000 to complete the amount, police said. N was left with Dh70 in her bank account. "He told her that he was a businessman and that he had to travel from one country to another to close business deals," Col Bu Rashid said.

The swindler provided N with a passenger itinerary to Abu Dhabi International Airport, where she was to meet him. "She was very excited and went to meet her would-be husband, but she returned empty-handed," police said. She told police she resorted to the dating website and sent the money because of social and psychological pressure. "She did not marry, and there was a pressure from her family, who limited her freedom," police said.

From examining money-transfer records, officers worked out that the fraudster was from Cameroon. Col Bu Rashid called on the public to be wary when approached by people via the internet or mobile phones. He also urged people to report any such incidents or fraudulent websites. Anyone arrested for electronic fraud in the UAE faces at least a year in jail or a Dh30,000 fine.