Get Safe Online has revealed the shocking news that the British public have been defrauded out of a huge £41million in relationships carried out online in - with the majority of victims women in their 40s and 50s. The figures comes from Action Fraud and City of London police.
In 2017, 3,557 ‘romance frauds’ were reported nationally, averaging ten reports a day. Romance fraud involves a stranger setting up a fake online identity or online profile, in order to enter into a relationship with someone.
Their intention is then to scam them out of their personal funds, or figure out their personal information.
And it’s reported that women are twice as likely as men to fall victims to the awful schemes, with 63% of victims being female.
Women in their forties (22%) and fifties (25%) are also those most likely to lose money to romance fraud.
And the terrifying situation doesn’t just leave people financially out of pocket. Almost half of all victims confessed that the crime had a significant impact on their health.
On top of that, a further 18% even confessed that they had been left requiring medical treatment, or were at risk of bankruptcy, as a result of a romance scam.
However, while the reported numbers about victims of romance fraud are horrific, Get Safe Online states that the numbers likely don’t even come close to the real truth of the matter.
Their thoughts are that many victims feel embarrassed about falling victim to romance crimes. But the organisation still urges people to come forward in order to deal with the terrifying problem.
Suzanne Grimmer, Detective Inspector at the Metropolitan Police (FALCON) said, “Our message to anyone who uses online dating platforms is this: Never send money to someone you have met online, no matter how convincing their story is or how invested in the relationship they seem.”
Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director of Age UK also commented on the report, revealing that romance fraud cases are far more common than any of us think.
She said, “It could happen to anyone and is much more common than you might think – 10 people report this kind of fraud every day, with many more cases going unreported because of the stigma of having been so cruelly duped. These scams can have devastating consequences for older people’s wellbeing as well as their finances and we need to do everything possible to prevent them and to bring the perpetrators to justice.”
Get Safe Online have also shared their tips for staying safe online – and avoiding falling for fraudsters.
How to protect yourself from romance fraud:
1. Don’t rush into an online relationship – get to know the person, not the profile and ask plenty of questions
2. Analyse their profile and check the person is genuine by putting their name, profile pictures or any repeatedly used phrases and the term ‘dating scam’ into your search engine
3. Talk to your friends and family about your dating choices. Be wary of anyone who tells you not to tell others about them
4. Evade scammers by never sending money to, or sharing your bank details with, someone you’ve met online, no matter what reason they give or how long you’ve been speaking to them
5. Stay on the dating site messenger service until you’re confident the person is who they say they are. If you do decide to meet in person, make sure the first meeting is in a public place and let someone else know where you’re going to be.
If you want to find out more about protecting yourself online, head to Get Safe Online. They can provide advice on protecting your computer, your online shopping, any credit or debit accounts, and even safeguarding children online.