We’re warning anyone looking for love this Valentine’s Day to beware of fraudsters looking to rid their new partner of their savings. Every day we receive an average of seven reports of dating fraud.
The average victim of dating fraud will make their first transfer of money to the fraudster in less than one month of contact, showing how quickly and easily victims are defrauded. It takes another nine days on average before a victim reports the fraud to us.
Nearly £40 million was lost through dating fraud between 2015 and 2016, with 3,889 reports made in total. However, evidence suggests that this doesn’t accurately represent the true scale of dating fraud due to the embarrassment felt by some victims of fraud which can discourage them from coming forward to report their experience.
Commander Chris Greany, City of London Police and National Co-ordinator for Economic Crime, said: “The growth in online dating has led to a rise in organised criminals targeting people looking for love. These crimes destroy lives and the emotional damage often far outweighs the financial loss.
“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.
Report fraud and cyber crime to Action Fraud and receive a police crime reference number.