Depressed Man Who Fell for Internet Dating Scam Kills Himself

Paragraph 12 reads:  "Mr Hunt, who had twice been married, was already on anti-depressants and had had counselling following the break-up of his two-year relationship with Lesley Smith."

Internet dating victim dies under train after �80,000 scam

Published Date: 01 February 2010
A DEPRESSED man lay down in front of a Doncaster to Bridlington train to die after falling for an elaborate internet dating scam which left him �82,000 in debt, an inquest has heard.
Philip Hunt, 58, went online in search for a partner after he split with his long-term girlfriend but was taken in by promises of riches from a Nigerian girl calling herself 'Rosie'.

In an elaborate plan, 'Rosie' sent the cargo officer messages asking for him to help her get a case containing 2.9 million dollars through customs.

He even met two shady 'agents' in a London hotel who pretended to spray a special chemical on 'bank notes' to release cash.

But he was left �82,000 in debt and despite desperate attempts to recover the cash, turned to drink.

Faced with the "insurmountable" debt, Philip, of Grimsby, Lincs., left a final message before lying down in front of a train in Hull, on August 13 last year.

At a jury inquest in the city today, Chief Insp Danny Snee, of the British Transport Police, said documents left by Mr Hunt at his home labelled "for the police" revealed he had fallen victim to the 'Romance Scam'.

In the ruse, criminals pose as attractive women on dating and social networking websites with tales of needing large amounts of cash quickly.

He said: "Once contact is established with the victim and their trust is gained, they will ask for money. In this case, they claimed they needed to get money out of the country to be turned into English pounds.

"Mr Hunt was clearly hoping for a relationship with Rose and they could share the financial benefits together. But unfortunately there was never likely to be a relationship or any money.

"Mr Hunt went down to a Travelodge near City airport, London, and met up with two people he referred to as agents. A chest was produced and he was invited to pick out a piece of paper, under the pretext the US government had coated them with a chemical that needed cleansing."

He said Mr Hunt was then asked for money to pay for the apparently highly expensive chemical that could turn more of the paper into cash. In reality, it was just one of a string of "expense claims" that the criminals were using as a ruse to dupe him out of yet more cash.

Mr Hunt, who had twice been married, was already on anti-depressants and had had counselling following the break-up of his two-year relationship with Lesley Smith.

They parted in July 2007 but kept in touch with texts, and after he had told her of the "amazing" situation he was in she had immediately warned him it sounded like a scam.

She told the hearing: "I told him he had to call the police but he said no, he would lose his job because all this had been done on his work computer."

In the days leading up to his death, he sent her a message saying "one day we will soar away together, goodbye". He then laid down in the path of the 8.44pm Doncaster to Bridlington train.

After he was found dead with multiple injuries near the train tracks, police found his mobile phone in a rucksack nearby. His final message was to 'Rose' and it read "I'm cold, lonely and depressed, I'm so lonely without you tonight. Going to meet my maker, mother I love you." However it was never sent.

A jury at the inquest returned a verdict of suicide.

After the hearing Chief Insp Snee said: "This case is made all the more tragic by the fact that insurmountable debts clearly cause the victim to commit suicide.

"People need to be very wary, if something looks too good to be true it usually is. They should be particularly wary about parting with money with someone they have never met, it just doesn't ring true.

"The demands for money for supposed medical bills, hotel bills and travel expenses were endless."

He added that a criminal investigation into the international fraudsters is ongoing, although no arrests have been made.

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  • Last Updated: 01 February 2010 4:38 PM
  • Source: n/a
  • Location: Yorkshire