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.
Notes from a small island: Is Sealand an independent 'micronation' or an illegal fortress?
Briton arrested after children's throats slit in France
World news in pictures
'Swivel-gate': David Cameron at war with press over 'swivel-eyed loons' slur
Revealed: Eerie new images show forgotten French apartment that was abandoned at the outbreak of World War II and left untouched for 70 years
- 1 Heading for America? Prepare for the longest US immigration queues ever
- 2 Notes from a small island: Is Sealand an independent 'micronation' or an illegal fortress?
- 3 You thought Ryanair's attendants had it bad? Wait 'til you hear about their pilots
- 4 'Swivel-gate': David Cameron at war with press over 'swivel-eyed loons' slur
- 5 It’s official: thanks to Stephen Hawking's Israel boycott, anti-Semitism is no more
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.
£28000 - £31500 per annum + benefits: Randstad Education Newcastle: Permanent ...
£50000 - £58000 per annum + Benefits and Bonus: Progressive Recruitment: SAP F...
£30000 - £40000 per annum + BENS: Progressive Recruitment: Drupal Developer A ...
£45000 - £50000 per annum + bens: Progressive Recruitment: C# WEB DEVELOPER Le...