The campaign is aimed at helping communities not to be fooled by love scammers and prevent and reduce this type of offence from happening.
Romance fraud occurs online where money is fraudulently obtained from victims who genuinely believe they are in a personal relationship when, in fact, they are being tricked.
The average financial loss per victim is approximately £18,000 and the impact of the fraud on a victim’s social, financial and personal well-being can be life changing.
Last year nationally there were over six thousand victims of romance fraud with a reported loss of over £68 Million.
In Lincolnshire police saw a loss in excess of £2 Million, a 35% increase on 2018.
Research has shown that many victims do not report the matter for varying reasons e.g. embarrassment, meaning that the number of victims and loss is probably significantly higher.
Victims hard earned cash, sometimes life savings, is being diverted to organised crime groups and away from the local and national economy, having a wider impact on our communities.
Detective Inspector Simon Mason, from the Economic Crime Unit, said: ““We are committed to safeguarding vulnerable people and disrupting criminality that preys on victims, causing them significant financial losses.
“Romance scams are both emotionally and financially damaging for victims. The increasing popularity of online dating services has made it easier for criminals to target victims, so we urge everyone to be cautious and try to protect themselves against fraud.
“Although banks are always looking out for suspicious activity, customers must be on their guard and protect themselves too.”
This type of fraud is often initiated by organised crime groups with many of the suspects operating outside of the UK. Traditionally dating sites were used by the fraudsters but any social online platform can be used where direct contact with victims is available.
Victims of romance fraud or anyone who suspects that a vulnerable family member or friend may be, is asked to contact:
1 ActionFraud – Call 0300 123 2040 or visit www.actionfraud.police.uk
2 Call Lincolnshire Police on 101, always call 999 in an emergency
3 Call Crimestoppers on 0800555111