Do you know who’s behind the mask?
Do you know who you are talking to online? Does the profile match the person?
Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Peter McCall, is encouraging people to make sure they know who they are talking to online.
Online criminals set up fake and realistic profiles on social media and dating apps to build relationships with potential victims, often romantic. The criminals then use this relationship for financial gain. The act of creating a fake online profile is known as ‘catfishing’.
Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Peter McCall, said: “Social media and online dating have grown exponentially in the last decade and they are great tools for communication and building relationships.
“However, there are people out there that will use these platforms for criminal activity and try to con others out of money or persuade someone to meet in person to commit physical and/or sexual crimes.
“Catfishing is a popular tool used by these criminals to target their victims, leaving those who have been targeted with a name and contact details that do not exist.
“I would urge anyone who is using these platforms to communicate with others who they do not know in real life, to make sure that the profile matches the person and to never provide these people with bank details or money.
“If you have been the target of an online crime, please report it to the Police on 101 and Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.”
Detective Inspector Duncan Brooker said “These scams can be extremely sophisticated and those victim to such a scam should not be embarrassed and are encouraged to report it.
“Many victims are convinced that the person is real with the fraudster gaining the victims trust over weeks with fabricated details on their lives, before a story is produced asking for money. These will have a variety of emotive reasons and as the emotional relationship has already been formed, victims often transfer money without a second thought.
“We would urge people to protect themselves and make family members aware of the warning signs if they are online dating who might not be aware of the type of scam.
“Together with our partners, we are urging people to look after themselves online and aim to spot the signs of romance fraud.”
In an emergency call the Police on 999
For non-emergency enquiries call 101 or contact www.cumbria.police.uk or call 101