Online Romance Fraud

A message from our safer neighbourhood team.

 

Dear Resident,

Most people you meet online are genuine, but sadly, some people aren’t who they seem. Dating sites and social networks are targeted by scammers who use fake profiles and take their time to build what feels like a genuine relationship.  They are very skilled at this; after all, it is how they make their money.  Men and women of all ages have been targeted.

As well as individual fraudsters, it is known that organised criminal networks based overseas are involved in Romance Fraud. These networks target UK victims and often develop profiles and stories to appeal to potential victims, such as saying they are divorced or bereaved. Fraudsters will take time to develop a relationship; they may develop several potential victims at once.  Indicators may include:

  • They cannot physically meet you, especially if they’re overseas.
    •       A relationship moving quickly, possibly expressions of love or talk of marriage soon after first contact.
    •       They claim to be current or ex-servicemen or women, or they claim to be recently widowed to gain your sympathy.

Once they have won your trust, they will tell you of a problem they’re experiencing and why they need some money.  Any request for money should set alarm bells ringing.  Common tactics are:  a loved one needs money for medical treatment; or they want to visit you and need money to pay for flights; or there is a business opportunity.

Many victims have been asked to send money to African countries via money transfer services.  Recently, victims have reported being asked to send money to Turkey, and were given a Turkish IBAN (International Bank Account Number) to send funds to.  These scammers were claiming to be Americans or US Marines.

Never send money as part of an online relationship.  Once you do, the fraudster will keep inventing reasons why you need to send more.

For further advice about online relationships, please see our attached fact sheet.

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