After going through a divorce and then brain surgery in 2016, Elspet Wilson decided she wanted to start dating again and joined a dating site. She was contacted by a man who used a fake identity and alias ‘Brian Walsh’. They started a relationship with the promise of marriage and she sent him almost £10,000.
On the BBC programme For Love or Money today, Kym Marsh and Ashley John-Baptiste spoke to Elspet about her situation with ‘Brian Walsh’ in the hopes to raise awareness to others about the horrific online romance fraud that many vulnerable people fall victim to.
Elspet explained that Brian claimed he was a British Army officer, currently deployed in Syria. He told her he was about to retire and looking to make connections back in the UK.
It wasn’t long until he started to send roses, and declare his love for her.
She said: “It was nice for somebody to say in the short time that they wanted to get married, and I thought it was a genuine person.”
Swept up in the romance, Elspet didn’t object to sending him money.
After five weeks of talking, she said he asked her for £2,000 to help pay for important documents to be shipped to the UK
He said he would reimburse her when he got back.
Brian needed £2,000 and said he could not pay for this himself as he was on active duty in Syria and could not access his UK bank account.
She said she had no reason to doubt what he was saying, especially since he was so charming towards her.
A few weeks later, Elspet claimed she received an alarming email from Brian saying a diplomat had been shot.
He asked her for money to pay the hospital bills as he still had no access to his account, however Elspet did not have any more money to give him.
She contacted the Foreign Office to see if they could help, however they told her they were not aware of any British soldier serving in Syria with the name and that she was likely the victim of a scam.
Elspet said: “I just broke down completely, and I was really at rock bottom.
“I kept on saying, ’No it’s not a scam, we’re going to be married.’
“I had no money and no food. It is an awful place to be.”
Three years later, Elspet has her life back on track and volunteers at the food bank she used to rely on.
She also signed up to be a scam marshal in her local area.
With the help of National Trading Standards, Elspet is now telling others of the warning signs of scams.
For Love or Money continues tomorrow at 10am.