POLICE are warning about the dangers of romance scams on dating websites following reports of fraud.
Hampshire Police have issued guidance after receiving seven reports of scams, since the beginning of the year, where victims have sent money after speaking to people online.
Each incident involved a victim signing up to a dating website and being approached by another person who has claimed to live abroad.
Over the course of weeks, months or even years, the victim has been asked to send money for a variety of reasons, such as to buy a flight ticket to visit or to buy a mobile phone.
In two cases, victims were asked to hand over money on the promise of marriage.
Detective Inspector Lee McClellan, of Basingstoke CID, said: “The victims in these types of incidents are often vulnerable and genuinely believe they are in a relationship with the person they have met online.
“While the majority of accounts on dating websites are genuine people looking for romance, some are used by fraudsters to gain people’s trust and ask them for money or enough personal information to steal their identity.
“Once victims send money, the fraudsters will keep coming back and invent new reasons to send them more.
“It can be embarrassing for the victim to report they have been scammed, but we would urge anyone who believes they have been a victim, or anyone who believes they know someone who may be a victim, to call us.”
Officers have issued the following advice for people to protect themselves online:
• Avoid giving away too many personal details when dating online – revealing your full name, date of birth may lead to your identity being stolen
• Never send or receive money or give away your bank details to someone you’ve only met online, no matter how much you trust them or believe their story
• Pick a reputable dating website and use the site’s messaging service – fraudsters will want to switch to social media or texting so there’s no evidence of them asking you for money.