#relationshipscams | #dating | Criminals targeting people looking for love during lockdown

A total of 19 victims were duped out of the cash in the last three months by con-artists, officers have said.

It comes as singletons across the region have been warned to be vigilant about the criminals who are exploiting their search for love.

West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson said: “This really is one of the lowest forms of deception. Online romance fraud scams deliberately target people who are looking for friendship and love.

“Under these circumstances some people become extremely vulnerable to deception and these heartless scammers, often hundreds of miles away, have carefully laid traps to pounce and con innocent people out of sometimes several thousand pounds.

“With almost £100,000 already scammed from people in this way from the West Midlands since March alone, it’s vital we stop these fraudsters in their tracks.

“By highlighting what could be a very sensitive subject for some, we can at least draw their attention to the dangers of the fraud they face when they go online to try to meet potential partners.”

The con-artists have set up fake online profiles and built up a rapport with the victims, who believe they have found a trusting companion.

But then they claim to need money with convincing stories around their job roles – before asking the victims to send cash directly.

Scammers are also asking questions to gain enough information to access accounts themselves, depending on the relationship.

Examples of the fraud include false claims of being in the military and needing the money to return home.

Or the con-artists may also say they’re volunteers and need support with raising cash – or a chief executive who uses their “business” as an excuse to send cash.

The majority of those scammed while looking for love in lockdown between March and May were aged in their 50s and 60s.

Kloe Burrows, from the economic crime unit, said: “These criminals seek to exploit people looking for love and companionship.

“They establish a trust and affection with the victim before asking them for money or obtaining enough personal details to steal their identity.

“It’s important to think ’dates’ when looking for love online and protect yourselves against falling victim to a con-artist.

“They not only cause heartbreak but may stop you connecting with one of the many eligible singletons.”

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