A single mum was scammed out of £5,000 by a man posing as a handsome US airman.
Julie Price, 35, sold her car, TV and her nan’s engagement ring to pay for her lover’s flights to meet her.
But the man of her dreams was a fraudster who had been using the photos of real-life serviceman Jonathan Ramos.
Julie had spent 12 months talking via WhatsApp to the stranger, who also called himself Jonathan.
He tricked her into paying for countless iTunes and Amazon gift cards, which he said he needed to
access the internet at his military base in Afghanistan.
Julie said: “I’m ashamed of it now but I was completely in love with a stranger.
“I thought he was the person in the photos, who was a soldier and was fighting for his country.
“Looking back on it, I feel stupid.
“But I had just come out of a long-term relationship and my dad had died just five months before he first messaged me.
“He knew I was vulnerable and that’s how he got me.”
Julie wanted to share her story as a warning to others.
She said: “I don’t want other women to lose what I have to scammers like him.”
Julie, whose children are 11 and four, was introduced online to the scammer on New Year’s Eve 2018.
He began to tell her he loved her, then asked her to buy him gift cards and send money.
Julie swallowed his excuses about why he could not use a video call and agreed to send £1,000 so he could fly to the UK to finally meet her.
She scraped together the money by selling her jewellery, including her nan’s ring.
She also sold her Ford Focus car for £400.
But when she travelled to the airport to meet him in June 2019, she was left waiting.
She said: “He didn’t text until the next day, claiming his commander stopped him. He then said he would need more money to come over and I fell for it.”
In October 2019, Julie finally told her mum Mary about how she had been taken in by the con artist.
She said: “She told me straight away I’d been scammed – I was just crying my eyes out.”
Julie, from Portsmouth, Hants, later found an anti-scams Facebook group where she saw a video featuring the real Jonathan Ramos.
In it, he explained how his images had been stolen from his Instagram page, which has more than 92,000 followers.
Armed with the evidence, Julie managed to get her “boyfriend” on a phone call and told him to confess.
She said: “I could tell he was putting on an American accent and he was African. He just hung up.
“I want to help women avoid going through what I’ve experienced.
“People often think it’s just older women who fall for these traps, but I’m 35 and walked straight into it.”
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