The Beatles once sang that love is all you need but these days it tends to help if you have a computer too.
Online dating has exploded in popularity over the last ten years and now it’s a worldwide social norm with 1 in 5 of all relationships globally now starting online. It’s also been found that 17% of UK couples who have married recently met online and over 80% of people know someone who has found love online.
With statistics like that, online dating is clearly a great move for anyone looking for Mr or Mrs Right but what happens if that online personality doesn’t turn out to be who they say they are?
Watch out, Romance Scams are about
A romance scam is a confidence trick involving false romantic intentions towards a victim and gaining their affection, with the sole intention of priming the victim to commit financial fraud.
Once they have entered into a full long-distance relationship with their victim, the scammers spend long periods of time grooming their victims via email, text messages and phone calls, before pretending to be in urgent need of money or financial help. This grooming will usually include them sending fake pictures of themselves, and asking for pictures of you in return.
In the worst case scenarios, victims have been persuaded to hand over thousands of pounds before their suspicions are aroused.
Romance scams are not a concern solely because people are losing large sums of money to these criminals but also because of the psychological impact experienced by the victims of this crime.
The long term effects of this particular type of fraud can be especially hard as the victim loses both their money and the “romantic relationship” they worked so hard for. It’s also suggested that suffering the shame of being romantically scammed can then deter them from reporting the crime at all.
Could you be a victim?
As with most types of fraud, a romance scam can be hard to spot but here are some warning signs that your new online beau may not be who they say they are:
• You’ve developed a relationship with someone you’ve met online via emails, text messages and phone calls.
• The new love of your life looks like a supermodel in the pictures they send you.
• They ask you lots of questions about yourself but don’t tell you much about themselves.
• They quickly start calling you by a pet name or use endearing terms such as ‘darling’.
• They want to communicate with you through instant messaging and, texts, rather than through the dating website or chat room where you met.
• They don’t answer basic questions about where they live and work.
• They start asking you to send them money.
If you think you have been victimised, you should do the following:
• Report it to Action Fraud.
• Break off all contact immediately.
• Report the fraudster to the website or chat room operator.
• Do not send any more money.
To read the full article on Romance Scams, click here and make sure you protect yourself properly.
Image ref: Scamwarners.com