Online daters are being urged to use caution after three men were arrested in Dublin and Meath in connection with a romance scam.
The scam involves the fraudsters creating a fake profile to build a relationship with the victim whose trust they build over time.
One Irish woman was showered with expensive gifts, including scarves and perfumes, before she was asked to invest in her suitor’s business.
Over a 13 month period, the woman gave the romance fraudster €48,000. The woman initially delayed reporting the fraud to gardai because she was married.
According to gardai, the extent of the scam is not fully known because many of the victims are too embarrassed to report the fraud.
The arrests were made in west Dublin and Navan today as part of an investigation into the romance scam which also includes investment fraud.
Detective Superintendent Michael Cryan (GNECB) said: “This is a novel investigation as the senders of such emails have never been arrested in Ireland before.
“To date, the belief would always have been that criminal groups engaged in this activity are operating from outside this jurisdiction. This investigation shows that this is not always the case.
“It is anticipated that numerous injured parties from all over the world will now be identified. We would encourage other victims of this type of fraud to report incidents to local Gardaí.”
What are the signs of a romance scam?
Romance Fraudsters will:
• Try to move communications away from dating websites. They suggest that you move to instant messaging, text or phone calls instead.
• Ask a lot of personal questions.
• Avoid answering personal questions about themselves. The details that they do tell you seem made up or do not reflect reality. For instance, they may say that they’re university educated, but their spelling and grammar is poor.
• Try to establish a bond quickly. For example, they may give you an endearing pet name e.g. baby, darling, etc.
• Ask for financial help. They may tell you about money problems in the hope that you’ll offer to help.
• Never meet you in person. They will present obstacles and may go as far as making arrangements and cancelling them at the last minute. They may promise to want to see you but offer excuses which delay this, such as financial troubles.
What can you do?
1. Use trusted dating websites.
2. Do not share personal details.
3. Do not send or receive money.
4. Think twice before using your webcam.
5. Trust your instincts.
Are you a victim?
If you believe that you are a victim of a romance scam, or think your identity or personal information has been compromised, contact any Garda Station and report the crime. Please be assured that An Garda Síochána will treat all reports in confidence.