Tragic romance scam victim bought wedding dress before life savings were stolen
An elderly woman has died with just £120 in her bank account after a group of scammers tragically "brainwashed" her into thinking they were in a relationship and stole £20,000.
Elaine Chamberlain was made to believe she was going to marry one of the men and purchased marital rings and a wedding dress in the days before her death aged 76.
One of the scammers video called Elaine just hours before she died last month to seek more money, but the phone was intercepted by her son Richard Chamberlain.
53-year-old Richard reportedly answered the phone and, when asked where Elaine was, told the scammer: "She's dead, you killed her."
Richard established the image shown to Elaine had been taken from a Welsh man's Facebook profile.
His worries of a fake identity were confirmed when Elaine answered her phone on loud speaker and Richard heard a young man's voice on the other end.
He said: "You could tell from the voice that it wasn't the man in the picture.
"I told mum, 'you're being scammed', but she would just say, 'no I'm not, no I'm not'."
Richard believes Elaine became aware the man she was talking to was not who was in the picture and instead was a young black man.
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In early 2020 the post office where Elaine deposited the cash contacted South Yorkshire Police about unusual activity from her account and officers went to see her.
Elaine got around the obstacles set by Richard and officers by visiting money exchange centres instead of post offices and transferred the money that way, he said.
"I said, 'what the hell are you doing mum?' and she said, 'it's to help his sick son'."
Richard tried to get things under control by taking hold of his mum's financial affairs, however, he went on holiday and returned to find she had reversed everything.
He said: "By that point my mum was brainwashed.".
Just two days later Richard received news that his mum had been rushed to hospital with cellulitis, and within hours that she had died from multiple organ failure.
He said: "We went to the hospital to see her and when we walked in her phone was ringing on FaceTime.
"I answered and it was a black man in his 30s asking for Elaine, I said 'she's dead, you killed her', and put the phone down."
Richard then discovered his mum died with only £120 to her name.
And he later found a wedding dress and two rings in her bedroom. She had sent pictures of herself wearing the dress to the scammers.
Richard said: "I think my mum knew that the game was up and gave in. She instigated her own death in my opinion."
He added: "I want to speak out about what happened to my mum to try and prevent the same thing from happening to anyone else.
"These scammers are so horrible and nasty, they ruin people's lives, they ruined my mum's life."
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