Queensland Police are appealing for more information after one man in his 50s and two men in their 70s lost nearly half a million dollars in a complex romance scam between June 2022 and February 2023.

Police will allege two men in their 70s responded to a personal advertisement and were directed to a paid dating service.

From there they began engaging with a woman who claimed to be a widow in her 50s who allegedly claimed she needed large payments of money to get out of a work contract.

Images released by Queensland Police shows one profile that reads: “Country lady at heart looking for her soulmate.

“New to the area. Widow of six years. 50 years old. Open to any age,” the profile continues.

“Slim build, blue-eyed blonde. Very happy natured, fun loving, honest, nurturing and caring. Very affectionate and romantic.

“Looking for a man to share all these qualities with.”

Officers say one man from Toowoomba lost about $42,000 and only reported the incident after a friend shared concerns he had been targeted by a scam.

A second man from the Cassowary Coast area lost $343,500 and reported the matter in March 2023.

After extensive inquiries, detectives also located a third alleged victim aged in his 50s from Western Australia. Police believe he was defrauded of more than $111,000 through the same scam.

Three people have been arrested and charged over the alleged scam.

On July 25, detectives executed search warrants at two homes in Benowa on the Gold Coast before arresting a 52-year-old and 29-year-old woman.

Police will allege they found $79,200 in cash hidden inside a pillow at one of the properties.

The 52-year-old has been charged with five counts of fraud and one count each of receiving tainted property, possessing tainting property and contravening an order about access to information stored electronically.

The 29-year-old has been charged with five counts of fraud.

They are both expected to appear before the Southport Magistrates Court on October 3.

On August 4, police also arrested a 52-year-old man from Mermaid Beach. He has been charged with four counts of fraud and is expected to appear at the Southport Magistrates Court on September 18.

Victims of scams are advised to immediately notify their financial institution and report the matter to ReportCyber.

Detective Sergeant Matthew Hogan said romance scams targeting older people were especially “cruel”.

“To defraud any person is horrible but to specifically seek out mature people who may be vulnerable, it’s cruel and QPS will investigate all matters until alleged offenders are before the court and support is provided to those victims,” he said.

“We urge anyone who has information which could assist in investigating fraudulent activity to come forward.”

Sergeant Hogan urged victims to come forward and said there was the potential there were more victims who had been impacted by the scam.

“Anyone at any stage in life can be vulnerable to scams, and while it is confronting and upsetting, we ask victims to come forward, seek support and report what has happened to ReportCyber or to police,” he said.

“This will help ensure it can be investigated, alleged offenders put before the court and that others in the community can be reminded of the warning signs.”

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