Sarah met her partner online through Facebook. They chatted for a number of months and the relationship grew over that time. Her partner was based in the Middle East and they decided together it was time to move the relationship to the next step. He was going to move so they could be together properly. The relationship had been online initially and then moved to texts and phone calls.
He gave his flight details, times of arrival, connections, etc. to Sarah. He had already sent his belongings a few weeks previous and they would be arriving shortly. Later that day Sarah received a phone call from customs to say the belongings had arrived but that the customs had been underpaid and would need to be paid immediately to release them for delivery. If it wasn’t paid the items would be returned. They had tried contacting her partner, but Sarah knew why they couldn’t get in touch, sure he was mid-air on his way to her country. Sarah was advised to pay the customs via transfer as it was instant and given the bank details to do so. She paid almost $4,000.
The next day when her partner's connecting flight was due, Sarah happened to tell a family member about the stress of getting the payment over to customs. It was only then that the family member convinced her to contact the bank and the police. Initially, she declined but when her partner never showed she realized she had fallen victim. Even when she reported it she still didn’t believe it was true and that there was some misunderstanding.
The bank attempted to recall the payment but the money had already been moved and they were unsuccessful. Upon further investigation, they discovered several smaller payments had been made over the months of the relationship for minor things e.g. Amazon gift cards, iTunes vouchers, and that kind of thing. The requests never came directly from the fraudster however seeds had been planted over the months and Sarah had done them as anyone in a relationship would.