A South Wootton man is holding a fundraising dance to thank those at Victim Support who have helped him through the hardest time of his life after he was scammed out of over £10,000.
Dave Hazel, 54, was targeted through a dating website by fraudsters who led him to believe that he was helping to pay for his friend’s safe transit from Ghana to the UK.
He said: “It just makes me sick to think of it. She even asked me for my bank details so she could put money into my account, but luckily something stopped me.”
Mr Hazel started talking to the woman in November 2012 after spotting her picture and being reminded of a friend from the past, the pair spoke online but soon started calling each other.
He said: “I said it would be nice to meet her properly and she asked me to send over some money to pay for the flight, so I did.
“She emailed a copy of the ticket and the immigration forms so it all seemed fine.”
He added: “I was so excited when she was on her way. I’d just gone to sleep when I had a phone call from immigration saying she had been stopped carrying lots of gold and had no papers to prove who she was or who it belonged to.
“I was gutted, really upset. I could hear someone crying and they asked me to call her lawyer who said that she was going to go to prison unless she could get more money.”
Mr Hazel was asked to send a further £4,500 but could not afford it so he sent £2,500 and was asked for more. By May 2013, he had handed over between £10-15,000.
After telling a neighbour what had happened, they suggested that Mr Hazel turn to Victim Support, a national charity that gives free and confidential advice to victims of crime.
Mr Hazel said: “They’ve been there for me and they are still. My support worker has been on the phone with me most nights and has popped round, but they don’t get paid for what they do.
“I’m just trying to do the best I can to get through it and keep my head above water.”
“I worry about my bills. I’m on anti-depressants and it’s totally ruined my life – if it wasn’t for dancing I’d be calling the Samaritans.”
Now he is planning to hold a fundraising dance as a thanks for all Victim Support have done.
He said: “This was a way for me to show my appreciation and say thank you to them.”
Mr Hazel took up ballroom dancing last February, before branching out to modern dance and jive.
He said: “I always wanted to do ballroom because my mum did and I thought I would like to get out and socialise. It has helped me in so many ways.
“As I don’t have the money to donate to Victim Support, I’ve decided to hold the dance to raise money to repay them for what they have done for me.
“I’m hoping that other people who have been a victim of crime might see the posters and will want to come along to support the dance. They don’t have to tell anyone what has happened or talk about it at all, just enjoy the dance and show their support.”
The dance will be taking place on March 28 at Gaywood Church Rooms, from 7.30pm to 11.30pm. If you would like to buy tickets, please contact Dave on 01553 676992 and leave a message.