Online daters looking for love this Valentine’s Day are being warned not to be duped by fraudsters posing as prospective partners.
New figures released from Action Fraud UK and City of London Police reports that the number of dating scams are on the rise and as a result nearly £40 million was lost through dating fraud between 2015 and 2016.
According to Action Fraud UK, the average victim of dating fraud will make their first transfer of money to the fraudster in less than one month of contact. It takes another nine days before the victim actually reports the crime to them.
An average of £10,000 is lost by dating victims in the UK.
The City of London Police states that reports of dating scams are up by 32 per cent over the two year period (January 2013 to December 2015).
“The growth in online dating has led to a rise in organised criminals targeting people looking for love,” says Commander Chris Greany, City of London Police and National Coordinator for Economic Crime. “These crimes destroy lives and the emotional damage often far outweighs the financial loss.”
Despite 3,889 reports made between 2015 and 2016, not all victims appear to be reporting the crimes however as evidence suggests that this figure doesn’t accurately represent the true scale of dating fraud due to the humiliation felt according to Action Fraud UK.
Fraudsters will often dupe their victims with the promise of unconditional love followed by a plea for cash.
Commander Greany adds, “Never give money to people you meet online, no matter what emotional sob story the person uses.”
In a UK first, Victim Support and Age UK along with the City of London Police, Metropolitan Police Service and Get Safe Online will all work in partnership with the Online Dating Association to better understand how fraudsters operate and how they can reduce the number of victims with #datesafe tips.
Get to know the person, not the profile and ask plenty of questions – don’t rush into an online relationship.
Check the person is genuine by putting their name, profile pictures or any repeatedly-used phrases and the term ‘dating scam’ into a search engine.
Talk to your friends and family about your dating choices. Be wary of anyone who tells you not to tell others about them.
Never send money to someone you’ve met online, no matter what reason they give or how long you've been speaking to them.
Don’t move the conversation off the dating site messenger until you’re confident the person is who they say they are.