During 2020 victims of online romance fraud in the Humberside Police area lost more than £1m. According to a recent YouGov survey the number of people spending more time on dating apps has increased by 8% in Yorkshire and the Humber since the start of the pandemic and many popular dating apps have seen a surge in downloads.
How to protect yourself against this type of scam
- Try not to give away too many personal details if you’re dating online. Something as simple as telling someone your name, date of birth and address may result in your identity being stolen.
- Don’t send or receive money or give anyone your bank details, no matter how much you trust them.
- Only ever use a reputable dating website and only chat on their site. Be wary of anyone asking you to chat via social media or text.
Spot the signs that something isn’t what it should be...
- Someone’s asking you a lot about you but revealing very little about themselves.
- Suddenly a reason appears for them to ask for your help. They will play on the fact that you have feelings for them.
- Take a close look at the photos they’ve sent you. They may be a little too perfect. You can do a reverse image search on google to find out if the pictures have been taken from somewhere else.
- If you’ve arranged to meet they may start asking for money for the journey. They may also play on your sympathies by saying a relative is sick and they need money for an operation.
Date safe tips on how to avoid a #fauxmance
- Don’t rush into an online relationship – get to know the person, not the profile and ask plenty of questions.
- 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.
- Talk to your friends and family about your dating choices. Be wary of anyone who tells you not to tell others about them.
- 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.
- 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.
What to do if you’re the victim of romance fraud
- Don’t feel embarrassed, these fraudsters can be very convincing!
- Report it to Action Fraud, the national fraud and cyber-crime reporting centre. You can do this on-line here or by calling 0300 123 2040.
- If you’ve paid by credit or debit card for anything, or made a bank transfer contact your card provider/bank and explain that you have been a victim. They’ll be able to give you advice on how to cancel payments and protect your identity from being possibly stolen.
We’ve recently launched a peer support group with Victim Support (Humberside) to help victims of romance fraud.
Julie Butcher, Operations Manager for Humberside Victim Support, said: "Many victims tell us that they feel they should have seen what was happening.
Many are also unsure that it was fraud, even after reporting or ending the relationship. Supporting each other is a good way to understand what has happened and move forward.
We feel that facilitating these support groups alongside our police colleagues is a good way for people to access help and would encourage anyone to contact us to find out more."