Briton suffers 'romance fraud' kidnap ordeal
A Briton was kidnapped, assaulted and imprisoned for four days in west Africa until a ransom was paid for their release, police said today.
The Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) said the British national travelled to west Africa to meet someone they had become friends with online - but the friend was the "fictional creation of a criminal group whose sole aim was extorting money".
It was the first reported incident of a person being kidnapped as part of a so-called romance fraud where the victim was British, Soca said.
Soca fraud expert Colin Woodcock said: "Romance frauds are damaging enough, draining people's money and damaging their confidence. But the possibility of kidnap is a sinister development.
"This is a very sensitive subject. People can feel embarrassed at being tricked, or even unwilling to believe that the person they have got to know remotely is a criminal who is after their money.
"We know the networks rely on these responses to reduce the chance that the victim will report the crime, and we are sure there is significant under-reporting by victims as a result.
"In the case of same-sex romance frauds there is the added threat in some countries of laws against homosexuality.
"Criminals use the fear of legal repercussions to make victims feel unsafe in going to the authorities, or even to extort more money. It is a vicious and manipulative crime."
Soca said its anti-kidnap and extortion unit was training local officers on the ground to help them deal with any kidnaps effectively, and work to tackle fraud was also under way in Nigeria and Ghana.
Stamford Hill council removes 'unacceptable' posters telling women which side of the road to walk down
Kim Kardashian 'nude pictures' leaked on 4chan weeks after Jennifer Lawrence 'The Fappening' scandal
Isis in Syria: 60,000 Kurds flee terror in new exodus
Iranian blogger found guilty of insulting Prophet Mohammad on Facebook sentenced to death
4Chan naked photos leak: Celebrity Twitter reactions to the mass breach of privacy
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
Scottish referendum results: Cross-party consensus collapses amid Tory-Labour spat on the 'English question'
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Russia freezes Ukraine into submission: Kiev admits country doesn't have enough fuel for winter
Archbishop of Canterbury admits doubts about existence of God
Portuguese academic says British are 'filthy, violent and drunk'
- 1 Scottish referendum: So how about the English now being given a chance to split from England?
- 2 Stamford Hill council removes 'unacceptable' posters telling women which side of the road to walk down
- 3 Kim Kardashian 'nude pictures' leaked on 4chan weeks after Jennifer Lawrence 'The Fappening' scandal
- 4 Matthew Miller: American sentenced to hard labour in North Korea 'wanted to be Snowden II'
- 5 Iranian blogger found guilty of insulting Prophet Mohammad on Facebook sentenced to death