Officers from the force’s cyber team are giving Merseyside residents some advice, to help put a stop to romance fraudsters this Valentine’s Day.
Dating or romance fraud is when you think you’ve met your perfect partner online, but they aren’t who they say they are. Once they’ve gained your trust, they ask for money for a variety of emotive reasons.
Over £68 million was lost in 2020 in the UK through criminals who commit romance fraud.
Due to the current Covid-19 restrictions, we are all spending more time alone, indoors and online and fraudsters are taking advantage of this, to befriend potential victims online before defrauding them.
The scammers create realistic but fake internet profiles in order to strike up relationships, often with more than one person at the same time. They then exploit this relationship asking for loans, gift cards, often making their victims feel guilty if they ask too many questions.
Detective Sergeant John Black from Merseyside Police’s cyber team said: “In the past twelve months, we have all spent a lot of time indoors and people are using the internet and social media to connect with people. Sadly that is where they can also fall foul of fraudsters who will take advantage of them.
“This type of fraud is particularly upsetting for victims – not only can they lose money but they are often faced with the heart-breaking realisation that the person they thought they were in a genuine relationship with, were actually scamming them. This can often lead victims to feel embarrassed.
“Sadly by the time someone has realised that the person they have been conversing with online are not who they say they are it is too late and the damage – both emotionally and financially – has already been done.
“We are urging people to follow some simple steps to help protect themselves against these fraudsters.”
– Avoid giving away too many personal details when using online dating sites or social media. Revealing your full name, date of birth and home address 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 want to quickly switch to social media or texting so there’s no evidence of them asking you for money.
– Stay on the platform’s messaging service until you meet in person. Criminals will want to quickly switch to other platforms that are less regulated and have better encryption, so there’s no evidence of them asking you for money.
For more information on how to protect yourself from being tricked by these fraudsters visit. http://actionfraud.police.uk/fauxmance