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How to protect yourself from romance fraud

How to protect yourself from romance fraud

Published by the Pirate FM News Team at 12:38pm 14th February 2018. (Updated at 5:55pm 14th February 2018)

Love is in the air this Valentine's Day, but people in Cornwall are being urged to know the dangers of online dating.

Devon and Cornwall's Police and Crime Commissioner has shared a warning about romance fraud.

Get Safe Online says they receive hundreds of reports of these crimes every month.

The advice service has these tips to help protect you:

 

  • Pick a reputable dating website and don’t move the conversation off the site’s messaging service until you’re confident the person is who they say they are.
  • Get to know the person, not the profile. Ask plenty of questions – don’t rush into an online relationship. This may also help you avoid becoming a victim of a false sexual relationship.
  • Check the person is genuine by putting their name, profile pictures or any repeatedly used phrases and the term ‘dating scam’ or ‘romance 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. Tell someone what you’re doing – and where – before meeting an online suitor in person for the first time.
  • Never send money or your bank details to someone you’ve met online, no matter what reason they give or how long you’ve been speaking to them. If you’re defrauded, your bank will normally do its best to recover your money, but is not responsible for refunding it if they don’t manage to do so.
  • Don’t give away too many personal details. Revealing your full name, date of birth, home address or workplace could lead to identity theft or even personal harm.
  • If you become a victim of romance fraud, report it immediately to the dating site where you met the perpetrator, and to Action Fraud on www.actionfraud.police.uk or on 0300 123 2040. This makes it easier to take action and protect other innocent people, even though you may feel embarrassed to tell anybody.

You can find more advice here.

A spokesperson for Get Safe Online said: "The vast majority of people using dating sites are sincere and honest in the information they provide and in their reasons for joining.

"However, there are exceptions, and you need to be aware of how to keep yourself - and your bank account and savings - protected while meeting people online."

The Risks

  • Personal safety when meeting someone in person who you met online.
  • Stalking and harassment.
  • Fraud, when people appeal appeal to your better nature to help them out of an 'unfortunate situation' by sending money.
  • People masquerading as somebody who they are not.
  • Spam, selling or fraud, especially romance fraud.
  • Webcam blackmail, where fraudsters record things you may do in front of your webcam then use the recording to extort money.
  • Phishing emails claiming to be from an online dating site and encouraging you to divulge personal information.
  • Being defrauded by using websites posing as authentic dating sites.
  • Potential theft of your money if you do not use a secure link when making payments. 
  • Using certain dishonest dating sites that:
  • Set up 'pseudo' or fake profiles where the person you think you have met is actually employed by the site to keep you hanging on ... and paying money
  • Stop sending you contacts and messages as soon as you have paid the fee to receive them

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