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.
President of Argentina adopts Jewish godson to 'stop him turning into a werewolf'
Exclusive: Abusers using spyware apps to monitor partners reaches 'epidemic proportions'
ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
UK weather: Warning for more snow and ice as freezing temperatures and gales hit Britain
New York police shooting: thousands turn out for the funeral of Rafael Ramos
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
Immigrants make UK racist, says Ukip councillor Trevor Shonk
Nigel Farage: Ukip leader named 'Briton of the year' by The Times
BBC director Danny Cohen: Rising UK antisemitism makes me feel more uncomfortable than ever
- 1 The political parties aren't all the same – which means 2015 will be a 'big-choice' election
- 2 President of Argentina adopts Jewish godson to 'stop him turning into a werewolf'
- 3 ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
- 4 The 'Black Museum': After 150 years, public set to see exhibits from police’s grisly crime museum