Romance fraud is when fraudsters target victims, often through online dating sites, to form a relationship. They will use the site to gain their victim’s trust and ask them for money or enough personal information to steal their identity.
The vast majority of people using dating sites are sincere and honest in the information they provide and in their reasons for joining, however, there are exceptions, and you need to be aware of how to keep yourself, your bank account and savings protected while meeting people online.
Once a fraudster using a fake dating profile is confident they’ve won your trust, they will tell you about a problem they’re experiencing and ask you to help out by sending money.
They may have arranged to visit you but need money to pay for the flight or visa. They may tell you everything has been booked but their ticket has been stolen and you need to send money quickly to get them on the next flight.
Alternatively they may prey on your sympathies, telling you a family member or someone they are responsible for is ill and they need money for medical treatment.
Once you send them money, the fraudsters will keep coming back and invent new reasons to send them more.
- Avoid giving away too many personal details when dating online – revealing your full name, date of birth and home address may lead to your identity being stolen
- 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
- 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
Spot the signs:
- You’ve struck up a relationship with someone online; they’re asking a lot of personal questions about you, but they're not interested in telling you much about themselves
- 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
- 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
How to report it:
- To report an incident in action or if you are in immediate danger, always call 999
- If it is after the event you should call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or use their online reporting tool
- If you’ve given your bank details over the phone or handed your card to a courier, call your bank straight away to cancel the card