A new campaign kicks off this month from The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, run by the City of London Police, to tackle the increase in romance scams.
The City of London Police saw 6,049 reported cases in 2019 for romance scams – which is the highest number of reports seen (although it’s likely the figure is much higher as these crimes do not often get reported out of embarrassment). Men and women aged 50-59 years are most at risk of falling victim to romance fraud; the older the victim, the higher the financial loss likely.
The average loss per person is currently around £18,000, according to the City of London Police.
Here’s how to keep your money safe when looking for love online:
The tell-tale signs of a romance scammer
- …request money (usually backed by an emotional story) or ask you to receive money into your account
- …ask too many personal questions, yet don’t reveal much about themselves
- …have perfect images, which could be stolen from a model
- … always find excuses not to meet face-to-face
- …declare their love for you early on
‘Remember, these fraudsters often play the long game and will spend weeks or months to gain your trust before stealing from you,’ says Paul Davis, fraud prevention director at Lloyds Bank.
‘Make sure you talk to friends and family about them, because they may be able to spot suspicious behaviour. It can be difficult to see this for yourself if they tell you they are in love with you and you have spent months talking to them.’
Are you a victim of a romance scam?
Call your bank immediately. ‘If you call within a few hours, a bank may be able to get the money back, but if it’s two or three days later, then it will be difficult,’ says Davis. ‘You should also report it Action Fraud.
Scammers lurk online, including social media, but dating sites are a popular place to get their victims. If you use dating site or app, use reputable ones where there are some checks in place to minimise risk.’
George Kidd, chief executive, Online Dating Association (ODA), adds: ‘A reputable site will have lots of information to help users stay safe and even belong to a body like the ODA. If the site has its own messaging service, then that is good too, as fraudsters will often try to take you off the platform to communicate with you.’
You can also see the latest scams and advice at Take Five.
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