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Ms Marshall was left thousands of dollars in debt."Some of it was personal savings, some of it was increases in my credit cards, and finally when I was getting desperate I took money out of my self-managed super fund, which I was not allowed to do."The tax office made her close the fund down and demanded she pay tax on the amount she withdrew."I've ended up with a tax debt of over ,000," she said."I've got absolutely no idea how I'll pay it because my job was made redundant last August."She hopes to find a publisher for a book she has written about her experience.Ms Marshall used reputable companies to transfer the money, but police later discovered the funds had been diverted to Nigeria.By this time the man claimed to have gone to Dubai to take up a short-term work contract, after which he said he would come Australia to be with her.It was then that he started to ask for money."In Dubai there were an increasing number of problems that he needed financial support for," said Ms Marshall."There was supposedly a cheque he had received for the work which he couldn't cash because it needed to go into his bank in England."He also said he needed money to pay taxes or they wouldn't let him leave the country."I gave him money for the taxes and that night he was attacked and he lost the money."Just as she thought she had paid his way out of the country, he claimed to have a car accident on the way to the airport."This was somebody I felt I could marry and spend the rest of my life with." They chatted online and spoke on the phone, but whenever they tried to video chat his webcam wouldn't work.The two would spend hours a day talking to each other online, often chatting into the early hours of the morning."They make sure they take up a lot of your time and they isolate you from your friends," said Ms Marshall."If your friends say watch out for this guy, they say 'don't listen to that friend; what we have between us is special and they will never understand'."She said the late nights left her tired, lowering her defences."The next thing he's in hospital needing money for medical treatment," said Ms Marshall.Finally, just after he told Ms Marshall he had left Dubai, he cut off all contact."I realised it was a scam," she said.
A quick search of the internet will pull up any number of reports of individuals who have been separated from their money by “women” they have met online or through genuine dating sites.
"I just took everything on face value – I wanted to be loved by a man, I wanted to be taken care of by a man," said Ms Marshall.
Now Ms Marhsall, who trained as a social worker, is starting a support group so survivors of online dating fraud can meet and talk about their experiences."Just in the talking and hearing themselves talk, there is a healing process," she said.
If you're lucky, you've found us before you got scammed.
Maybe that dream girl you've been talking to for the past couple of weeks seems a little too good to be true?