Police are warning of the dangers of Romance Fraud as part of a national Action Fraud campaign
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Police are warning of the dangers of Romance Fraud as part of a national campaign, following a 26 percent rise in reporting levels over the past 12 months.
Romance or dating fraud occurs when you think you’ve met the perfect partner online but they are using a fake persona to form a relationship with you. This can happen on dating websites, social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, and even interactive gaming sites.
Between August 2019 and August 2020, Action Fraud received more than 400 reports every month from victims of romance fraud in the UK. Losses reported by victims during this time totalled £66,335,239, equating to an average loss per victim of just over £10,000.
Romance fraud victims in Gloucestershire lost nearly £1 million pounds during this period; believing they were in online relationships with people who then asked them for money.
Incidents that have been reported locally include an 18 year-old woman who lost £1,800 after communicating with a scammer on Snapchat; an elderly woman who believed she was helping her “partner” to educate his children lost £11,000; an elderly man was scammed out of £18,000 after communicating on WhatsApp with a woman “who needed help with medical bills”; and a man lost £400 believing that he was in a relationship with a female soldier in Syria whom he was speaking to via email.
To avoid becoming a victim of dating and romance fraud you should:
Avoid giving away too many personal details when speaking online to someone you’ve never met in person. They will exploit this knowledge of your life experiences to come up with an emotional “hook” when they ask you for money.
Never send money to someone you’ve never met. A fraudster tells stories to target your emotions, build your trust and get you to give them money.
Be aware that a romance fraudster will usually steer you away from chat rooms, dating sites and apps as these are often monitored for fake accounts and romance fraudsters. They will ask you to talk to them on social media, messaging apps, text and email, or more rarely on the phone.