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Oldham woman scammed out of £20k by romance fraudsters pretending to be millionaire

‘It makes me really angry because they’ve deliberately targeted someone who is elderly and vulnerable’

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Soumil Kumar / Wikimedia & Kampus Production / Pexels

A man has warned people looking for romance about the dangers of fraudsters after his sister was scammed out of tens of thousands of pounds.

The man has shared his sister’s experience of falling victim to romance fraud to help prevent others from being manipulated into sending money to scammers online.

Starting in 2022, his sister Alice – whose name has been changed to protect her identity – sent £20,000 over the course of 18 months to romance fraudsters.

Alice, who was 81 when this began, thought she had fallen in love with a man she met via an online scrabble game and having built up a connection, the man began requesting money.

Kampus Production / Pexels (stock photo)

Alice’s brother David – whose name has also been changed – spoke of how his sister lost her husband a few years earlier, and said that even though she had a good circle of friends and family around her, she still felt lonely.

David said the scammers are ‘very clever’ and ‘target things like online scrabble because they know this is a place where they’ll find older women with a bit of money’.

He said: “My sister believed she was dating a 60-year-old millionaire in the United States who was promising to come over and look after her and give her a second chance at love. It was all a lie.”

Alice felt that the fraudster understood her. He said he was a Christian, a father and that he too was a widow, just like her.

Stock photo / PxHere

David continued: “We knew Alice’s behaviour had changed but we found out something was seriously wrong when she came to my wife and I for help. She said I’ve been a fool; I’ve just been to the bank and I’ve been sending money to someone abroad.

“There have been many different scams in total that we know of targeting my sister – but I think it’s either all the same person or a group of scammers who are based somewhere in Nigeria.

“Some of the stories they tell really are just unbelievable, but they prey on the most trusting and vulnerable people.

Anna Shvets / Pexels (stock photo)

“The first scam we became aware of was a man claiming to be an American millionaire who was working on an oil rig. There came a day when he supposedly didn’t have access to his card and he told Alice that his daughter needed an operation that afternoon.

“He put pressure on her, saying the surgeon needed payment then and there or his daughter was going to lose her leg. And Alice just sent the money to him because they’d been talking that long, and she believed he was who he said he was.”

David eventually got Power of Attorney and now supports the bank in investigating suspicious transactions on Alice’s accounts, though they still don’t know the identity of the scammer. 

He also says disentangling Alice from his web of lies hasn’t been easy and that she became distracted and even forgot birthdays as she became totally immersed in the relationship.

Anna Shvets / Pexels (stock photo)

David hopes other victim’s will learn from his sister’s story, realise they are being scammed and will report to Action Fraud. Likewise, he hopes friends and families of victims will be able to spot the signs that something is wrong.

As he adds: “Everyone should be suspicious if someone they don’t know contacts them online. I dread to think what could have happened if my wife and I weren’t there for Alice – the scammers could have drained her account and left her with nothing.

“The photos and videos that my sister received seemed genuine, but I found out how to do a reverse image search and was able to show her they were all fake. 

“It makes me really angry because they’ve deliberately targeted someone who is elderly and vulnerable, but I hope that by speaking out this will help protect other victims.”

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David has since reported the matter to Greater Manchester Police, and was given the number for a helpline and advice on how to take the investigation further.

Detective Sergeant Stacey Shannon of GMP Economic Crime Unit said David and Alice’s story is ‘far from unique and there are many people who fall victim to such scams’. She warned people to ‘stop and think before responding to strangers you’ve met online, especially if they start asking for money’. 

“If you suspect you or someone you know is a victim of romance fraud, please seek help sooner rather than later and report it,” she added.

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Man arrested after mum pushing pram stabbed and killed in broad daylight

A man has been arrested on suspicion of murder

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West Yorkshire Police

Police have arrested a 25-year-old man wanted for the fatal stabbing of a woman while she was pushing her baby in a pram in Bradford.

Police have arrested a suspect, following the murder of Kulsuma Akter, 27. Akter was stabbed several times in the Westgate area of Bradford city centre on Saturday afternoon. 

The mother was rushed to hospital, where despite the best efforts of medics, she sadly succumbed to her injuries. Her baby was unharmed in the incident.

It has also emerged that suspect, Habibur Masum, was on bail for assaulting and threatening to kill her at the time of the attack.

West Yorkshire Police

Masum was conditionally bailed by Manchester Magistrates’ Court in November, despite prosecutors objecting to his release, it is understood.

Court documents show Masum, whose address was listed as Oldham, Greater Manchester, was charged with assaulting Ms Akter on November 23rd and threatening to kill her on November 24th.

Both incidents are alleged to have happened in Greater Manchester. Police had previously confirmed the couple were known to each other but have not confirmed their relationship. 

Masum attended a hearing on November, 27th 2023, where he pleaded not guilty to both offences and was ordered not to contact Ms Akter, it is understood.

West Yorkshire Police

His bail conditions also prevented him from contacting a second person, or visiting a particular address.

Greater Manchester Police has said it is supporting West Yorkshire Police with the ongoing murder investigation.

Both forces have referred themselves to the Independent Office for Police Conduct watchdog over previous contact with Masum and Ms Akter.

Detective Superintendent Jude Holmes, from GMP Oldham district, said: “We share the shock and concern that our communities feel in the wake of this tragic incident, and our thoughts are with Kulsuma Akter’s family at this truly distressing time.

“Habibur Masum is wanted by West Yorkshire Police on suspicion of murder. Due to his links to Greater Manchester, we have our specialist officers following several lines of enquiry to locate him.

“I urge members of the public to remain vigilant, and if you have any information on his whereabouts, call 999 as a matter of urgency.

“Due to previous police contact with Habibur Masum and Kulsuma Akter, Greater Manchester Police has made a referral to the Independent Office for Police Conduct.”

Police have arrested a 25-year-old man on suspicion of murder. A 23-year-old man was also arrested in Cheshire on suspicion of assisting an offender.

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Hunt for murder suspect after mum pushing pram killed in broad daylight

It is not clear whether is Masum is armed as police warn not to approach him

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West Yorkshire Police

Police are searching for a man from Oldham after a mum was stabbed to death in Bradford while pushing her baby in a pram.

Habibur Masum, 25, is wanted over the attack which took place in the Westgate area of Bradford at 3.21pm on Saturday (April 6th).

The victim, a 27-year-old woman, suffered multiple stab wounds and was taken to hospital where she sadly died of her injuries, West Yorkshire Police said.

West Yorkshire Police

The force also confirmed the baby was not harmed in the attack as the public is warned not to approach Masum.

It is understood Masum was known to the victim although police have not confirmed their relationship at this time. A knife was found at the scene but it is unclear if he is armed.

Masum was pictured on CCTV wearing a grey hooded, zip-up coat with three large horizontal lines of grey, white and black on it, grey tracksuit bottoms with a black logo and burgundy trainers. 

West Yorkshire Police

A witness also reported seeing him wearing a grey hoodie with the hood up shortly after the incident on Westgate, at the junction with Drewton Road.

Masum is from Oldham and is believed to have links to Burnley and Chester. He is described as an Asian man, of slim build.

Detective Chief Inspector Stacey Atkinson said: “We have had significant resources following up a number of lines of inquiry to locate Habibur Masum but at this time his whereabouts are unknown.

“I would urge anyone who does see him not to approach him but to call 999 immediately.”

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She said the death of such a young woman in the ‘most awful circumstances’ will ‘understandably cause concern in the local community’.

Detective Chief Inspector Atkinson Added: “I would like to reassure the wider public that we are working tirelessly to investigate this horrendous crime and bring the person responsible to justice.

“To help us with this we are urging anyone who was in the area who may have dashcam footage or seen or heard something, however small it may seem, to please come forward.

“A scene remains in place which includes some road closures and I thank the public for their patience while we conduct our enquiries.”

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Man arrested in murder investigation after human torso found in Salford nature reserve

A man in his 20s is being questioned by police

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@gmpolice / X

A man has been arrested on suspicion of murder after a human torso was found wrapped in plastic in a nature reserve in Salford.

As detectives continue to investigate the discovery of human remains found by a passerby on Thursday, April 4th, a man in his 20s from Salford was taken into custody on Saturday evening for questioning, Greater Manchester Police say.

DNA testing is being carried out to determine the identity of the victim, who is believed to be a male ‘likely to be aged older than 40’ and ‘has only been deceased for a matter of days’, officers say.

@gmpolice / X

GMP says it is conducting a thorough search of the area by utilising local officers and specialist branches including search dogs and assistance from underwater search teams, to help comb the site.

The force says although it has ‘not found anything else that is of interest to the investigation’, ‘work will not stop’ until it is certain the area has been thoroughly searched.

Chief Superintendent Tony Creely, of GMP’s Salford district, said: “The arrest we made yesterday evening is an important step for our investigation, but we must keep an open mind and a big part of this is speaking to anyone who may have crucial information.

“As we continue to work in the area, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the public for their concern and cooperation so far, and we are mindful this is a disturbing incident for the local community, but I can assure you that since we were made aware, we’ve been pursuing every single line of enquiry to help us find out what has happened.

“I cannot stress the importance of people contacting us with information if they know anything at all. You may have information that you don’t feel is of importance, but it could be to us, please pass it on, it could be the key piece of information we need to progress this investigation.”

Anyone who thinks they may have witnessed something suspicious in the Kersal Dale area over the last few days is urged to call GMP on 101 and quoting log number 2695 of April, 4th 2024.

A dedicated portal for anyone to submit images or video footage which could help police can be found HERE.

 

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