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Internet scam criticised after Grimsby man's death

1 February 10 21:41 GMT

The ex-partner of a Grimsby man who took his own life after losing about £82,000 in an internet dating scam has condemned those who targeted him.

Philip Hunt, 58, of St Catherine's Court, took his own life near Hessle, East Yorkshire, in August last year.

His former girlfriend Lesley Smith said the people responsible for the scam were "vultures".

She was speaking after an inquest into Mr Hunt's death in Hull on Monday which returned a verdict of suicide.

Mr Hunt had paid out the money to a website to help a woman said to be called "Rose" come to the UK from Nigeria to start a new life with him.

Ms Smith said: "These people are out to get people when they are very vulnerable and at a low ebb. They're in there like vultures."

Det Ch Insp Danny Snee of the British Transport Police (BTP), said Mr Hunt, who suffered from depression, had met "Rose" on a website in December 2008 and communicated with her through emails and texts.

He remortgaged his house and took out loans and overdrafts to pay for various alleged costs, including medical treatment for "Rose", who he was told was starving to death.

Mr Hunt's last contact with the scam was in June 2009. He died on 13 August when he was hit by a train.

'Insurmountable debts'

Det Ch Insp Snee told the inquest Mr Hunt had left a bundle of documents in his home containing information about the scam, marked for the attention of the police.

He said the scam involved inviting the victim to advance sums of money for a particular reason with the promise of significant gain later.

He added: "The cause of Mr Hunt's death is due to the insurmountable debts which had clearly been caused by the scam which Mr Hunt had been victim to, which makes it all the more tragic.

"We would like to reiterate a warning for those who may find themselves in similar circumstances to be very wary. If something looks too good to be true, then it probably is."

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