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A man pretending to be Jason Statham conned a British woman out of hundreds of thousands of dollars through an online scam, according to BBC. The female fan was under the impression that she had been contacted by Statham through a Facebook fan page dedicated to The Fast and the Furious actor.
"I thought, ‘Oh, that’s nice of him, talking to his fans,'" the woman explained. "I might have been starstruck then, I don't know."
After the unidentified woman was seemingly contacted by Statham, he encouraged her to communicate with him on WhatsApp, an encrypted messaging app. The Statham imposter then sent the woman hundreds of messages over the course of many months.
The fraudster then manipulated his newfound relationship with the woman by asking her for help during a period of financial hardship. He had told her that he loved her, called her names like "baby" and "honey," and thus when he told her a film payment of his had been delayed, she agreed to assist.
She sent several payments to the scammer, totaling hundreds of thousands of pounds. Based on the conversations posted by BBC, it appears as though the woman wired the funds through Western Union. She declined to reveal the exact sum she had sent, however she notes that it was a significant amount. "It was a substantial amount, which would have made a difference to my life and my family."
"I don't feel like I was in the right place myself because of what I'd been through," the woman recalled. She had just recently lost both her mother and fiancé, which she admits likely made her a vulnerable candidate for a fraudster. "I’m quite a strong person but obviously certain things get to you and you let your guard down."
She ultimately reached out to the GMP, which employed the Economic Crime Unit to investigate the crime. One of the investigators involved in the case explained that the tactics used by the scammer are relatively common. "This lady has been subject to somebody who just tricked her at a very vulnerable time in her life," investigator Mr. Moylon explained. "When you see the relentless messaging that this lady got from this person and you see the grooming and the exploitation... the impact is extraordinary."