“A lot of the online dating fraudsters we know are abroad.
They're in West Africa, Eastern Europe and it's very difficult for British law enforcement to take action against them in those jurisdictions,” Steve Profitt, Deputy Head of Action Fraud explains.
Each time she sat in a darkened room with her face hidden from view and spoke in a man's voice, Maidstone Crown Court, Kent, heard.
When the girls asked why they could not see 'him', Timms would reply it was because she 'did not look good'.
She was confronted, but then threatened to publish the images of one of the teenage girls if she did not return the watch.
“[It’s] not the case that stupid people fall for romance scams - they can be very clever,” Professor Monica Whitty, a cyber-psychologist, explains. Scamalytics, a company which runs anti-scammer software for a number of the major dating sites, are trying to reduce online dating fraud by creating profiles of the average male and female con artist.
Her deceit was said to have been inspired by the MTV programme Catfish in which people form online relationships but have never met in person.
Timms was finally rumbled when contact was made with the real Joey Knight, who was a friend of a friend on her Facebook account.
The female profile is in her 20s (29 was the most common age), and also has a high income.
She presents herself as a student, also with a degree and no interest in politics.
By analysing the top 3,000 scammer profiles (that is, those they’ve come across most frequently in profiles blocked by their software in the last year) they’ve discovered what constitutes the ‘most attractive’ female and male propositions to those targeted by romance scammers.