A convicted fraudster scours online dating sites for unsuspecting victims he can scam out of money.
Michael Higgins uses Tinder and Bumble to search for love, claiming to be a high-profile businessman with several high-end properties and luxury cars.
But the record can reveal that he was convicted of tricking people into buying cheap electronics, then stealing the money and failing to deliver the items.
Police are now investigating new allegations that he does the same with women he meets on dating sites.
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Unsuspecting Fleur Brand shared how she fell in love with the 39-year-old after seeing his profile on Bumble.
But she was left furious after handing over money for electronics that never showed up – and had to demand her money back.
The Record also spoke to a victim of his previous conviction, who warned people to avoid him on dating sites because of his scams.
Fleur, 32, met Higgins after seeing her Bumble profile in October 2020, believing she had finally met a ‘lovely guy’ who lured her in with ‘generous’ treats and the looks of a style of lavish life.
But weeks into their relationship, Higgins convinced Fleur, of Edinburghto send him hundreds of pounds for an iPad from the electronics company he claimed to work for.
Fleur never received the technology and spent almost a year fighting to get her money back.
After taking to social media to name and shame Higgins, Fleur received dozens of messages from other women and men targeted by the scammer, with many reporting that he is continuing his deception on Tinder.
Fleur told the Daily Record: “This man will say anything you want to hear. He told me he was looking for a relationship and told me he had a bad past experience with an ex he called a “psycho”.
“He had a very nice car, he dressed very well and he always came to my house with takeaways and wine. He seemed to be very generous.
But things turned sour when Fleur, who was hoping to give her parents the iPad for Christmas that year, began to wonder why the goods she had paid for had never arrived.
Higgins got “mean”, accusing Fleur of bullying him and being bitter “just because he didn’t like her” in dozens of posts.
He sent Fleur apology after apology as he dodged her demands, mostly blaming problems with online banking. And when she told him she would have no choice but to contact the police, he threatened her with “buddies” he claimed to have in the police force.
Fleur stayed in touch with Higgins over the next year in a “push and pull relationship” in hopes of finding evidence of deception.
After threatening to go to the cops in January 2022, he quickly transferred money but continued to provide excuses for the rest.
It was only after a chance encounter with him in an Edinburgh restaurant in February this year, where she grabbed his phone and refused to return it until he coughed up the money, that she eventually got the rest of her money back.
But the experience left her “out of her mind” as she struggled to come to terms with his behavior.
Fleur said: “I haven’t eaten for about two weeks and lost a stone. He made me feel so mad at myself for accusing him. I was beside myself.
In posts seen by the Daily Record, dozens of women have reached out to Fleur saying they too have been targeted by Higgins since she exposed him on social media in March.
An emotional Fleur added, “I wanted to warn others because of the mental impact it had on me. This man made me feel like I was going crazy.
A previous victim told how Higgins shamelessly scammed her out of money for electronics that never came – and he was convicted of the scam in 2018.
She said he lured people in with his flash lifestyle and charm before casually ditching he can save them hundreds of pounds by stocking up on tech, including iPads and mobile phones.
She told The Daily Record how Higgins will target anyone – male and female – he thinks is gullible enough to trust him. The woman, who we do not name, was tricked twice by the scammer and revealed he even convinced a mourner at a funeral to give her money for the non-existent phones.
She said it was the death of a mutual school friend that reunited Higgins and others from the village they grew up in, Balerno near Edinburgh.
She said he was active on social media and they exchanged messages to catch up and discuss a fundraising evening in memory of their friend.
She said: “Years ago I tried to warn people on shopping sites not to believe a word he said. A lot of people have lost money because of him.
“I believe people should know that this man is an impostor and will say anything to set you back when you chase him for the phone or your money.”
The woman said Higgins had promised her a new mobile phone for £230, but when handing it over he came up with a series of excuses.
She added: “I felt bad for harassing him. Then the apologies became more elaborate, such as the courier company coming that day, and then when nothing came up, he was blaming them.
“He even claimed to have refunded us using a banking method that doesn’t exist. He had the nerve to take offense when I said he was ripping us off and didn’t seem too bothered when I said the police were involved.”
Higgins eventually refunded her the money, leading her to believe he was telling the truth, so months later she gave him more money for another motive and went through the same process.
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She added: “He looks plausible and friendly so I can see why people would be fooled.”
Several people, including the wife, filed police complaints and Higgins pleaded guilty to fraud in January 2018. He was ordered to compensate the victims.
The Daily Record reached out to Higgins to comment on his current cell phone number, but he did not return calls or messages online.
He also deleted his Instagram account yesterday after we tried to contact him via social media. It is understood that he lives on a property in Livingston.
A Police Scotland spokesperson said: ‘We received a report on Friday February 25, 2022 raising concerns about a man’s activities in the Edinburgh area. No criminality has been established and appropriate advice has been given.
“Another report was received on April 4 and officers are conducting further investigations.”