Pictured; Hessle station in East Yorkshire near where Philip Hunt took his own life on August 13, 2009..
GRIMSBY, UK — A Grimsby man took his own life after he fell victim to an online dating scam that promised him the love of a “beautiful woman” – but instead left him with debts of over £80,000.
An inquest in Hull heard that at around 9.30pm on Thursday, August 13, 2009, 58-year-old Philip Hunt, of St Catherine’s Court, was struck by a train in Hessle. A post mortem examination revealed he had suffered multiple injuries and that his death was “instantaneous”.
The jury took just 15 minutes to return a unanimous verdict of suicide to the coroner Geoffrey Saul.
A spokesman for British Transport Police said Mr Hunt had “insurmountable debts” and was the victim of a common scam known as the Nigeria Letter or 419 Fraud.
The inquest heard he had been targeted by someone posing on an online dating agency as a Nigerian woman called Rose, in December 2008. She convinced him she was young, fabulously rich and if he could help transfer $2.9million from Nigeria to the UK then they could start a new life together, an inquest heard today.
Mr Hunt told his ex-girlfriend Lesley Smith – who gave evidence at the inquest – that “Rose” had promised him a share of her father’s estate if he could help her get 2.9-million US dollars into the country.
Ms Smith tried to warn Mr Hunt against it, telling him it was a ‘scam,’ but he was head over heels and blinded by the love of this impostor and believed the scammer over his former girl-friend of three years.
The 58-year-old was so hooked on the fantasy of a future with the stunning ‘Rose’ and he willingly paid out tens of thousands of pounds to help her beat malaria and get her funds through customs and into the UK.
The cargo officer remortgaged his house, took out loans, ran up overdrafts and begged for cash from his employers after repeatedly transferring money across to the fraudsters’ account.
Ms Smith said Mr Hunt – who had worked as a cargo officer for DFDS Tor Line, Immingham, for the last 14 years – had sent her a text in January last year, saying: “There are amazing things happening in my life”.
She told the inquest: “He told me that this lady needed to come to England with this case of money to be able to convert it into usable money. “He retrieved a suitcase from City Airport in London and under instruction went to a hotel room and waited there.”
The inquest was told by British Transport Police that he was met by two men, who revealed the case was full of blank paper. They showed Mr Hunt how they could “turn one of them into a 100 dollar bill” with the use of a liquid solution.
Eventually he became so hopelessly mired in debt that he committed suicide by lying down in front of a train.
Mr Hunt appeared to believe in Rose until the very end. His mobile phone was found in a rucksack near his body and a text message to Rose – which was never sent – read: ‘I’m cold, lonely and depressed, I’m so lonely without you tonight. Going to meet my maker..’