Eight men and women from Utrecht have been arrested in connection with an investigation into dating fraud which has cost dozens of elderly people tens of thousands of euros.
The gang deliberately targeted elderly men from all over the country and forced them to hand over cash and valuables totalling more than €350,000, police said on Thursday.
The men, all over the age of 75, were approached after placing their details on online dating sites. They thought they had contact with a man or woman about meeting up and inadvertently gave the crooks information about having cash or valuables on the premises.
The fraudsters then arranged to meet their victims in their own homes where they were robbed, often with violence. Sometimes the victims were drugged, police said.
Seven of the suspects were arrested in a coordinated campaign and the eighth was already in custody, police said. More arrests will follow and police say they expect the number of victims to be far higher.
“People should not be ashamed of falling for these fraudsters because they work in a very refined way,” police spokesman Sybren van der Velden said. “But it is very important that the victims of theft or a confidence trick report it to the police.”
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