Don’t fall for romance fraud this Valentine’s Day!
Romance frauds happen when the victim thinks they’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 them. They’re using the site to gain the victim’s trust and then ask them for money or enough personal information to steal their identity.
SPOTTING ROMANCE FRAUD
Generally, the scam starts with an initial contact by the scammer. Their profile picture is very attractive. It’s common for scammers to use stolen photographs of beautiful people. You can check whether someone’s profile picture is associated with anyone else by accessing the website in Google Chrome, right-clicking on the picture and then clicking ‘Search Google for image’.
The scammer asks you a lot of questions about yourself. This is because the more information they know about you, the easier you will be to manipulate.
The discussion is friendly at first but turns romantic very quickly.
Eventually, the scammer asks you to lend them money. They use any number of reasons: they need help to pay for the flight or other transport to meet you,medical care or they have a great business or investment opportunity that could benefit both of your futures.
PROTECTING YOURSELF FROM ROMANCE FRAUD
Just because there are some mean, dishonest people out there doesn’t mean you have to stop using dating sites altogether. If you’re using social media sites like Facebook, don’t accept friend requests from people you don’t know.
Don’t give away too many personal details about yourself online. Revealing your full name, date of birth and home address could lead to your identity being stolen.
NEVER send or receive money or give away your bank details to someone you’ve only met online. If anyone asks for your financial details stop communicating with them immediately and report them to the dating site.
Use reputable dating sites. Fraudsters will want you to quickly switch to using text messages, social media or telephone so there is no evidence on the dating site of them asking you for money, so keep communicating through the dating site messaging service.
Learn more about preventing this and other crimes by joining Neighbourhood Watch!