A DATING agency romance turned to disaster for a city woman when her suitor faked his own death to con her out of money.
The elaborate lie cost the woman thousands of pounds as she tried to claim the millions he ‘bequeathed’ to her as an inheritance.
Now the fraudster, who went by the name of Ben Williams, is being hunted by Thames Valley Police.
They say the woman met him through a dating agency in June 2009.
The couple communicated via email for several months before they met in person. The woman travelled to Bristol to meet Mr Williams at a luxury house, complete with private swimming pool.
Believing he was an affluent businessman who travelled to different countries, the woman fell for his story when he said he had problems with his bank card.
She lent him £2,500 after he promised to pay it back.
But a few weeks later she received a message from a man who said he was his “business partner”.
He told her Mr Williams had died on a trip in Spain.
But he had left her more than two million pounds in dollars.
To access the money, said the partner, the woman had to follow certain procedures.
The woman followed instructions on how to get her money, paying out thousands of pounds in the process.
When no cash was forthcoming she became suspicious and reported the incident to police.
To date, the woman has not recovered her money and ‘Mr Williams’ has not been found.
Police in Thames Valley are now investigating the matter as fraud.
PC Angi Harrell said: “The man calling himself Ben Williams also has a Facebook page, where he gives his date of birth as 1 February 1961.
“We are appealing to anyone who recognises the man in the photograph, or who has any information as to his current whereabouts, to come forward and assist with our investigation.”
Anyone who recognises the photograph of Mr Williams or who has any information about him should contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
Police would also like to hear from any other women who use dating agencies and who met Mr Williams.
It is possible he may have used different names for different women.