Stark warning about online dating crime

Action Fraud are warning about online dating scams in the run-up to Valentine's Day.
Action Fraud are warning about online dating scams in the run-up to Valentine's Day.

With Valentine’s Day on the horizon, some singletons may want to join an online dating site to find their perfect partner.

But Action Fraud are warning that the perfect partner you meet online might be a fraudster.

Dating or romance fraud is when you think you’ve met your perfect partner online, but they aren’t who they say they are.

Once they’ve gained your trust, they ask for money for a variety of emotive reasons.

You register with an internet-based dating agency or join an online dating chat room. You receive a contact from someone who shows an interest in you. They may be from overseas, or they might tell you they are in the same country as you. Gradually, you develop a long-distance relationship through emails, instant messaging, texting and phone calls.

As the relationship develops, your exchanges become more intimate.

The person you have fallen for will probably send you their photograph and give you a pet name. They may also ask you for naked photos of yourself and/or ask you to perform sexual acts in front of a webcam, particularly if you are female.

The person you’ve developed a relationship with is not who they say they are. In fact, you have probably been in contact with several members of a criminal gang.

Once the fraudsters are confident that you have enough sympathy and desire for them, they will tell you about a problem they are experiencing and ask you to help out by sending money.

For example:

-they’ve arranged to visit you but need money to pay travel costs, visa costs etc. Or they’ve paid for a plane ticket which is then stolen

-a family member or someone else they are responsible for is ill and they need money for medical treatment.

Once you send them money, the fraudsters will keep coming back with more reasons to send them money.

If you send pictures of yourself of a sexual nature, the fraudsters will threaten to send them to your family, friends and work colleagues if you don’t go along with their requests for money.

If you’ve recorded any sexual acts in front of a webcam, the fraudsters will also use these to threaten you.

If you’ve been a victim of dating fraud:

-Report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.

-Break off all contact immediately.

-Report the fraudster.