On line dating fraud in the UK cost victims a heart- breaking £27 million last year, according to the latest stats from the City of London Police’s National Fraud Intelligence Bureau.
Over 2,700 online dating related crimes were reported to UK’s Action Fraud over 12 months with the average loss standing at £10,000. However, the actual number of crimes is thought to be considerably higher, with victims not reporting them owing to embarrassment.
Almost two thirds (62%) of all victims are aged between 40-69 accounting for £16 million of the total losses. People aged between 50 and 59 are the most likely victims accounting for a quarter of all frauds and losing just over £6 million.
Almost two thirds (64%) of all romance scams originated on dating sites, followed by social media (25%) and 10% via email. Only 2% of reported dating frauds originated via contact made on dating apps.
The key advice from the NFIB, to follow which will help you stay safe includes never sending funds to someone you have never met. If you’re in two minds always consult with a trusted friend or family member who will be able to view the situation objectively and provide another opinion on the situation.
“It is also very important that if you think you are being targeted or have been a victim of dating fraud to report it. Sharing this information will help identify and track down these heartless criminals who have absolutely no regard for people’s emotional or financial well-being”.
Tell-tale signs your online date may be a fraudster:
- They want to communicate with you through instant messaging and texts, rather than through the dating website or chat room where you met.
- They ask you lots of questions about yourself, but don’t tell you much about themselves.
- They don’t answer basic questions about where they live and work.
- Their profile picture is too perfect – for example they look like an actor or Miss World titleholder.
They start asking you to send them money using a number of different scenarios such as:
- Claiming to be military personnel based overseas who require funds for flights home or early discharge from the forces
- Citing medical related issues they need money for such as a sudden need for surgery, either for the fraudster or the fraudster’s family member
- They’ve arranged to visit you but need money to pay travel costs