DPFCC warns on the dangers of Online Dating and Romance Fraud ahead of Valentine’s Day
Cumbria’s Deputy Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner (DPFCC), Mike Johnson, is encouraging the public to be wary of those they meet online in the lead up to Valentine’s Day.
Romance fraud is when people are defrauded into sending money to criminals who go to great lengths to gain their trust and convince them that they are in a genuine relationship.
Tips to avoid falling victim to romance fraud, include:
- Be wary of revealing personal information about yourself online
- Remain on the dating site’s messaging platform if initial contact was via a dating site
- Remember that anyone can pretend to be anyone they want online
- Be wary if you are encouraged to keep things from your friends and family
- Be wary of anyone asking lots of questions about you but not revealing much about themselves
- Never send them any money
- Never allow them access to your bank account
- Never transfer money on their behalf
- Never take out a loan for them
- Never provide copies of your personal documents such as passports or driving licence
- Never invest your own money on their behalf or on their advice
DPFCC Mike Johnson is warning individuals to be smart when it comes to meeting up with someone online and comments: “Romance fraudsters cruelly use dating websites, social media and direct emails to exploit those looking for love.
“Romance fraud occurs when you think you’ve met the perfect partner online, but they are using a fake profile to form a relationship with you.
“These criminals will often go to great lengths to gain your trust and convince you that you’re in a genuine relationship, before appealing to your compassionate side, to ask for money.
“I would like to encourage people to learn more about how to spot the signs of romance fraud in order to protect themselves and follow the ‘Take Five’ advice on ‘How to Spot Romance Fraud’ this Valentine’s Day and in the future.
“If you think you have been a victim of romance fraud, it is very important that you report this to the Police on 101 and to Action Fraud. Sharing this information will help them to track down and identify these criminals who manipulate and take advantage of people who are searching for love.”
Detective Constable Claire Keyes, Cumbria Constabulary’s Economic Crime Unit, said: “Romance fraud is a particularly cruel and impactful crime, which leaves victims not only financially devastated but also emotionally distraught.
“In many cases victims are not asked outright to handover money, as most would instantly recognise this as a red flag. Instead, criminals prey on the generous nature of their victims and create a fictitious situation where the victim feels the need to help by offering to send money.
“Often it is hard for victims to come to terms with the reality of the situation once they become aware that the person they trusted implicitly has lied and manipulated them.
“I would urge everyone to take note of the following advice in order to prevent you falling victim to fraudsters.”
Reports to Action Fraud – the national fraud and cybercrime reporting centre – should be made at www.actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040.
For information on spotting the signs of Romance Fraud: