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Romance Fraud

Romance fraud, or dating fraud, occurs when you think you’ve met the perfect partner online but they are using a fake profile to form a relationship with you. They gain your trust over a number of weeks ormonths and have you believe you are in a loving and caring relationship. However, the criminal’s end goal is only ever to get your money or personal information.

The top five platforms where victims reported first interacting with the criminal committing romance fraud were Facebook, Plenty of Fish, Instagram, Tinder and Match.com.

Spot the signs and protect yourself
Spot the signsProtect yourself

You’ve   struck up a relationship with someone online and they declare their love for   you quite quickly. They may even talk of marriage or other relationship   milestones such as buying a house together. Many romance fraudsters say they   are based abroad so will claim a big step in your relationship will be them   returning to the UK to be with you. They will claim to be overseas because   they work in the military or medical profession, or they’re carrying   out important charity work. This helps them paint a picture of themselves as   being heroic, trustworthy and reliable, and also gives them an excuse for the   use of international dialling codes or poor internet connection. 

Avoid   giving away too many personal details when speaking online to someone you’ve   never met in person, as it can lead to your identity being stolen. This   includes revealing your full name, date of birth and home address - even if   you’re doing it for what seems to be harmless reasons, such as your partner   wants to send you flowers or a gift.

They   constantly make up excuses why they can’t video chat or meet in person and   they try and move your conversation off the platform that you met on.

Stay   on the site’s messaging service until you meet in person. Criminals 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. Whatever   reason you’re given to move away from the site where you met, if the other   person is genuine, they will accept your decision to stay on the platform   until you see each other in person.

When   they ask for your financial help, it will be for a time critical emergency.   The reason will be something emotive, which pulls at your heartstrings.   They’ll open up to you about a problem, or something that is worrying them to   appear vulnerable and make you feel sorry for them.  They may get defensive if you decline to   help or make you feel guilty and responsible for the urgent emergency they   claim you could have averted.

Most   online platforms have a reporting tool which you can use if you suspect   someone online is using pictures that don’t belong to them, you are   suspicious of their behaviour, or they have asked you for money. Reporting   their user profile means it can be blocked, which helps protect others.  

They   tell you to keep your relationship private and insist that you don’t discuss   anything you talk about with your friends and family. This also includes the   crisis they find themselves in that requires money. They will convince you   this is part of the normal privacy that forms a healthy relationship.

No matter how long you’ve been speaking to someone online and how much   you trust them, if you haven’t met them in person do not:

      
  • send them any money
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  • allow them access to your bank        account
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  • transfer money on their behalf
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  • take a loan out for them
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  • provide copies of your        personal documents such as passports or driving licenses
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  • invest your own money on their        behalf or on their advice
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  • purchase and send the codes on        gift cards from Amazon or iTunes
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  • Agree to receive and/or send        parcels on their behalf (laptops, mobile phones etc.)

For more information visit Action Fraud websiteon Romance scams.

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