People Looking for Love Warned About Romance Fraudsters

People looking for love this Valentine’s Day are being warned to watch out for romance fraudsters on the hunt for ill-gotten gains.

The Force typically sees an increase in reported romance fraud related offences in the run up to and after February 14th and is hosting a series of events to help warn people about the dangers.

Romance Fraudsters will try and con people – usually out of money – in a variety of ways. Cyber-enabled romance fraud is particularly on the increase with a common tactic employed by criminals to pretend to be someone else – for example a soldier needing help.

Members of the Force’s Cyber Crime Team, Economic Crime Unit and Crime Prevention Unit will be hosting the events in shopping centres in Bradford, Leeds and Huddersfield.

The aim of the events is to speak to people who may be at risk of romance fraud or maybe know a friend or relative who is.

Staff will be there to answer questions and to provide help and advice.

There will also be leaflets people can take away with them if they do not feel comfortable speaking in person.

Kay Bainbridge, Victim Care and Crime Prevention Officer for West Yorkshire Police’s Economic Crime Unit, said:

“Romance fraudsters look to prey on people who might be looking for love or maybe just some companionship. They can use various means to try and trick people – usually out of money.

“Victims usually pay a heavy emotional price too. Knowledge, however, is power, and by knowing some of the tactics criminals use people can guard against them.

“One example is when a fraudster pretends to be a soldier – often with either the British or American military. The fraudster will, over time, befriend the victim, usually on line, claiming to be a service man or woman. Once they have gained their trust they will ask for money. They may claim to be stuck overseas (usually in a conflict zone where troops are serving) and need financial help getting home, or have medical bills to pay.

“Unfortunately it is a cruel trick to con someone out of money. Neither the British or American governments will ever leave a solider overseas and if they need medical assistance then they will receive it. That piece of advice alone could save people becoming a victim and that is the sort of advice we will be giving at the stalls.”

The events are due to be held at the following locations:

Bradford- Broadway- February 12th – 11am - 3pm

Huddersfield- Kingsgate- February 13th – 11am- 3pm

Leeds- Whiterose - February 14th – 10am – 3pm

The events follow on from successful sessions run in December where the cyber team shared crime prevention advice about protecting new Christmas presents such as tablets and mobile phones.

Those events were held in Brighouse, Bradford, Huddersfield, Leeds and Wakefield

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