Romance fraud is when you think you’ve met the perfect partner through an online dating website or app, but the other person is using a fake profile to form a relationship with you. They’re using the site to gain your trust and ask you for money or enough personal information to steal your identity. The vast majority of accounts on dating websites are genuinely people looking for romance, but fraudsters may try to use this as a way to contact you by making fake profiles, getting in touch and building what feels like a loving relationship. Once a fraudster using a fake dating profile is confident that they’ve won your trust, they will tell you about a problem they’re experiencing for example, a sick family member with no money for treatment or they may have arranged to visit you, but need money to pay for the flight or visa and ask you to help out by sending money.
Spotting the signs before you can be attacked by a romance fraudster is the best way to avoid it happening to you. The first sign maybe that the person you are chatting with is asking a lot of questions about your personal life but not giving away too much about themselves. The second way of spotting a romance fraudster is they invent a reason to ask for your help, using the emotional attachment you’ve built with them. Your relationship with them may often depend on you sending money. The last thing could be that their pictures are too perfect. They may have been stolen from an actor or model; reverse image search can find photos that have been taken from somewhere else.
Statistics show that £27 million was lost to online “romance fraudsters” in a year and 71% of people on dating websites said that others misinterpret themselves on their profile. To protect yourself, avoid giving out too much personal information. This can include revealing your full name, date of birth and home address also 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 and lastly, 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.
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Source: Action Fraud UK