Scammed out of $2000

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NO SHOW: Sonia promised she would visit but never turned up.
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A grieving widower looking for love was scammed out of about $2000 in two weeks.

The 65-year-old Ashburton man, who wanted to be known only by his nickname Hair Bear, said he met a woman under the profile name Sonia, 52, from Ashburton. It was on the dating app OnlySpark, on about January 15. He then started communicating with her on the communication app Zangi.

Hair Bear said he and his wife had been together 12 years before she died of cancer about five months ago. Lonely, he had gone on OnlySpark ‘‘just to find a partner to go fishing with and have fun with, like I did with my wife,’’ he said.

Sonia told Hair Bear she wanted to meet him, and asked for money in the form of Apple gift cards so she could ‘‘keep her kids busy’’ while she came round to his house. But she never turned up. The same scenario went on almost daily, with Sonia repeatedly needing money to keep her kids busy. ‘‘When it got to two grand, that’s when I stopped, I asked for my money back and she said ‘Sorry’; I asked her again and she said ‘Sorry’ again.’’

Sonia had convinced Hair Bear she lived in Ashburton.

She knew his address before he told her, and knew other streets in the town. However, he had never seen her in person.

Hair Bear is sharing his story to warn others about Sonia, and any other scammers who might be out there.

The police said they saw romance scammers online repeatedly using the same images and photos across different apps or platforms.

They advised: Use Google’s reverse online image search of photos for reassurance; Avoid giving out personal information online; Be cautious about who you communicate with online; Never send money or gifts to anyone you have not met in person; Contact Netsafe for advice if you feel something is not right – netsafe.org.nz.