16th Dec, 2017

Online scammers targeting lovelorn singletons

Leamington Editorial 4th Feb, 2015 Updated: 28th Oct, 2016

SINGLETONS who use online dating sites risk being more than just unlucky in love with scammers conning Warwickshire residents out of more than £500,000 in the last year alone.

Warwickshire Police say they are dealing with more and more people who have fallen victim to fraudsters who use dating websites to talk to people and trick them into giving them money.

Over 30 reports of dating scams were made by Warwickshire residents and the total financial loss as a result of dating fraud was £518,000 from December 2013 to November 2014.

Warwickshire Police revealed the figures as part of the force’s Be Cyber Smart campaign ahead of Valentine’s Day.

DCI Sean Paley, from Warwickshire Police, said fraudsters often set up a fake ‘perfect profile’ and ask for cash after telling their victims hard luck stories.

He said: “Every year the police investigate cases where unsuspecting people have been tricked out of money, sometimes thousands of pounds, after meeting someone online. This can be a hugely damaging experience for people, both financially and emotionally, as it often involves a huge abuse of their trust.

“The online fraudster is able to take advantage of the anonymity provided by the internet to create the ‘perfect profile’. He or she then builds a rapport with their victims, making promises to tempt them into letting their defences down, before asking for money. The requests for cash often come in the form of hard luck stories, preying on the good nature of victims.

“Online dating can, of course, be successful for many but we want people doing it to be aware that there are some individuals out there who are not as genuine as they first seem.”

The total financial loss as a result of dating fraud, the majority of which was online, was approximately £32 million in England and Scotland in 2014, with 3,295 reports submitted to Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud and internet crime reporting centre.

The average loss per victim was approximately £12,000.

Visit www.getsafeonline.org for more information.

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