Gill is now a retired nurse who had been single for over eight years, however in 2018 she got a random Facebook message from a man who used a fake identity and alias ‘Michael Roberts’. They started a relationship and she eventually sent him over £3,000.
She said: “I was living on my own, my life revolved around work and sleep. It was good to have somebody to talk to.”
On the BBC programme For Love or Money, Kym Marsh and Ashley John-Baptiste uncovered the truth about the so-called Michel Roberts in an effort to help Gill draw a line under the horrific online romance fraud she had fallen victim to.
Gill explained that Michael claimed he was a doctor from New York with a 13 year old son. Over time they grew closer and shared personal details about their lives. He told Gill he was falling for her.
After a month of talking, the first request came in.
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She said: “He had problems with his bank and getting through to his account as it had been blocked.
“He said that his son’s birthday was coming up and asked if I could send a gift card for him.”
Gill agreed to send an Amazon gift card worth £100. This was the first of many gift cards. She sent around £700 worth of them.
As time went on, Michael asked Gill to come to America to see him so they could start a new life together. He told her that he would be able to get her a visa for £3,000.
She said: “I sent him everything I had. Every single penny.”
At the time, Gill was so excited to see him that she used her wages to add on the £3,000, however this was money she needed for rent, bills and food.
But after a while, she realised something was wrong as she never received the visa.
Worried she was being scammed, she cut contact with Michael. However she continued to be bombarded by requests from him and people that physically looked like the man in the photographs.
“It’s infuriating,” Gill said.
Whilst Michael claimed he was in America, him and Gill frequently spoke on the phone, however Ashley revealed that the number that Michael used to speak to her was based in the UK.
When looked at the number, it had been repeatedly identified as a scam call.
He also found that the scammer was using fake photographs of someone else online and posing as ‘Michael Roberts’. The photographs were linked to many fake accounts.
In shock, Gill said: “No, you’ve just blown me away. It’s not very often I’m speechless. I feel like I’ve been hit by a concrete slab or something because they’ve invaded my life and destroyed my confidence. They took a part of me away.”
For Love or Money is available on BBC iPlayer.