'I lost my farm' - Online scammer fleeces $1.25m from 'old fool' looking for love

Experts in managing money are warning Kiwis to never send money to anyone you haven't met before after a man lost about $1.25 million including his farm to a woman he's never met in an online scam while looking for love.  

TVNZ1's Seven Sharp met 55-year-old Mark, a farmer who inherited the family dairy farm when his parents died.

But something was missing - he was lonely.

"About two years ago I was on the internet looking for love. Got in touch with a girl named Connie. And she showed interest in me and that type of thing," Mark said.

"Connie" sent a photo and they also spoke on the phone.

"She told me her parents had been killed in a car accident. I talked to her for about two or three months. And then she told me she had some inheritance of some gold. And I went along with it," he said.

"She said to me, 'Mark can you help me get it from the American government?'"

He said "Connie" told him she needed a lawyer and money to get the inherited gold into her name.

"So I gave her $30,000 New Zealand," he said.

Connie convinced Mark to send money to the UK, the US and Malaysia for fees, taxes and transportation that would allow her to bring her inheritance of gold to New Zealand.

In the end, he had nothing left.

"I said, 'I've got nothing to pay anymore, I'm gonna lose my farm here if I pay anymore.' She says, 'You won't lose you farm, you won't ever lose your farm Mark, I promise you.' I lost my farm."

I was alone at the start and I'm even more alone now - Mark, who lost everything in an online scam

Mark said all-up he has lost "probably close to maybe 1.2, maybe $1.25 million". 

He is being helped by his family and the Commission for Financial Capability, which says the most important thing to remember is never send money to anyone you haven't met before. 

The commission also says if you are scammed, report it, because although you may not get your money back you can stop someone else from being ripped off.

Mark's friends and family told him he was being scammed and he said he feels "a fool, just an old fool really".

"I got that far into it I wanted something out of it. And I didn't get nothing back out of it. Alls I got was I was alone at the start and I'm even more alone now."

Every day thousands of dollars is sent overseas by New Zealanders who've been caught up in online scams and Mark hopes by sharing his story he can save others from the heartache he has suffered.

Friends and family told Mark he was being scammed, but he didn’t want to believe it, he tells Seven Sharp. Source: Seven Sharp