Action Fraud have seen a significant increase in romance fraud during 2020 compared with 2019. A romance fraud is when a criminal creates a fake profile on an online dating or social media platform and targets individuals in an attempt to gain their trust. This eventually leads to requests of money for medical bills, investments, legal fees, travel, or other reasons. The Coronavirus outbreak in the UK has led to more and more people trying to find love online. This is a great way of finding people to share experiences with, so we are spreading awareness of the potential dangers to keep an eye out for. If you are new to this type of social interaction, there are some standard checks and red flags that you should be aware with.
Please share these with your family, friends and neighbours:
- The person contacting you states that they have a career that they can’t talk much about and involves a large amount of travelling such as military, NATO, Greenpeace etc;
- The person will try and move you away from the dating or social media’s messaging service in order to execute their scam, such as WhatsApp or Google Hangouts;
- They claim to have poor internet in their location which can lead to them asking you for money as they can’t access online banking;
- Plans to meet you in person keep on getting postponed due to travel cancellations or work commitments (COVID-19 has played a huge part in forming a legitimate reason);
- They may have a too good to be true investment opportunity that needs to be invested in straight away in order to maximise returns and need you to move some money around for them. This can be backed up by false documents.
If you think that you have been contacted by someone like this, please report it directly to the website that you are using. If you think that you have been scammed by this type of fraud, report it straight to your bank and Action Fraud. These crimes not only cause financial loss but can have a devastating effect on the individual. The internet is a great tool during these strange times but please remain vigilant, if you see anything suspicious please talk to a someone you trust for help.