Grandmother's online dating leads to death
A widowed grandmother who travelled to South Africa to marry the man she loved has been found dead under suspicious circumstances in a Johannesburg guest house.
West Australian woman Jette Jacobs, 67, was found in February, two days after she met up with a man calling himself Jesse Orowo Omokoh, 28.
The pair had met on an online dating website.
Ms Jacobs had travelled to Africa to meet the Nigerian before, in a long distance relationship spanning three years and seeing the widow part with $200,000.
But this time they were to be married. She wanted to settle in Nigeria. Her children had begged her to stay in WA.
Her body was discovered in her rented villa by South African police on February 9.
Mr Omokoh, who would report to being the last person to see her alive, vanished after speaking to police.
One of Ms Jacobs' six children, who did not want to be identified, told 6PR radio in Perth on Monday her mother had been to South Africa four times, initially to meet another man.
"She wasn't naive when it came to other countries, we lived in Malaysia for many years," she said.
When the woman's brother received a phone call from a South African guest house, the siblings who had warned their mother against what they believed was a scam relationship, were in disbelief.
"I thought it was a hoax and I wouldn't believe that my mother had actually passed so I rang the consulate," the woman said.
"A couple of hours later they called me back and gave me their apologies."
A joint operation between WA Police and Consumer Protection, codenamed Project Sunbird, had sent Ms Jacobs a letter warning that she may be the victim of fraud, but it was too late.
By the time the letter arrived in Ms Jacobs' mailbox she had already left for her ill-fated trip.
When her children met with detectives in South Africa, they discovered her money, jewellery, laptop and credit cards were all missing.
And then there was an empty pill bottle found near her.
"Anybody who knew my mother would know that there is no way that she would do that," her daughter told 6PR.
"This has gone on for four years and after four years there is a very strong element of trust that has been built."
One of Ms Jacobs' sons warned others not to head overseas to meet people they've met online. "It could be a one-way ticket," he said.
Major fraud squad detective Dom Blackshaw said WA Police were now involved in the investigation and treating the death as "suspicious".
"These relationship frauds are being perpetrated by ruthless overseas criminals who are members of organised crime syndicates," he said.
"To travel to Africa to visit someone you have met on the internet is extremely dangerous and could, as in the case of Ms Jacobs, cost your life."