Mark Acklom conned his victim out of nearly £300,000, then went on the run for five years.

Serial fraudster Mark Acklom has finally been caught and jailed after years on the run. His victim Carolyn Woods lost nearly £300,000 of her life savings and has been left devastated by the conman. The mother of two met Mark Acklom in 2012, when he entered the store where she worked and convinced her to go on a date.

Over the course of a year, Miss Woods was taken in spending her life savings and money from the sale of her house to fund a luxury lifestyle of fast cars and expensive rental properties in Bath. She even proposed to him in the February of that year and purchased a wedding dress that she would never wear.

Acklom, 46 was already married with children. He posed as an MI6 officer, a Swiss banker and a wealthy property developer with links to celebrities. Acklom told Miss Woods he was having financial difficulties, so she set up a bank account to help him. By January 2013, Acklom had disappeared and went on the run making Europe’s most wanted list. Miss Woods had no choice but to move out of the expensive rental property they shared in Bath.

After five years, Acklom was finally traced down by Avon and Somerset police, the National Crime Agency and the Swiss Federal Criminal Police. He was taken into custody in Zurich and then extradited to the UK in June 2018. In court, Acklom plead guilty to eight counts of fraud by false representation and 12 counts of converting criminal property. He was sentenced to five years and eight months in prison.

After sentencing, Ms Woods said in statement: “Mark Acklom acted deliberately, and in the most calculated, pre-meditated way, to defraud me of all my money and nearly all my personal possessions, and to deprive me of my home and my job, thereby rendering me totally helpless and at his mercy.

”He also deliberately isolated me from my family and friends, and played psychological games to deceive me and engender a sense of fear in me. It was an act of the utmost cruelty, designed to destroy my life for his personal gain. My life, as I knew it, has indeed been destroyed, and it has only been the love of my two daughters that has prevented me from ending it completely. They, too, have been deeply affected by what has happened to me.”

Romance Fraud is on the rise, know the facts!

Statistics released by Action Fraud revealed that people across the UK continue to fall victim to romance scams. In 2018, 4,555 reports were made to police and the total cost of this was more than £50 Million.

Romance Fraud occurs when a victim is lured into an online relationship with a fraudster. Fraudsters are very convincing and take their time grooming victims, before extracting money from them. The victim will often think they are in a genuine, loving relationship before realising they have been the victim of a scam.

The emotional impact of romance fraud can be even more difficult to come to terms with than the loss of money. Victims often describe falling victim to romance fraud as having a significant impact on their health or financial well-being. It is thought that these numbers could be even higher as many victims feel embarrassed or ashamed to have fallen victim and never report it to authorities.

Action Fraud recommend the following tips to avoid romance scams:

1. Don’t rush into an online relationship – get to know the person, not the profile and ask plenty of questions.

2. Analyse their profile and check the person is genuine by putting their name, profile pictures or any repeatedly used phrases and the term ‘dating scam’ into your search engine.

3. Talk to your friends and family about your dating choices. Be wary of anyone who tells you not to tell others about them.

4. Evade scammers by never sending money to, or sharing your bank details with, someone you’ve met online, no matter what reason they give or how long you’ve been speaking to them.

5. Stay on the dating site messenger service until you’re confident the person is who they say they are. If you do decide to meet in person, make sure the first meeting is in a public place and let someone else know where you’re going to be.