Cyber criminals scam love-struck Brits out of £27 million according to the latest figures from NFIB and Get Safe Online
Victims of ‘romance’ scams lost an average of £10,000 to fraudsters
62% of all victims aged between 40-69 account for over £16 million of total losses
Two thirds of scams originate on dating sites and a quarter via social media
Online dating fraud in the UK cost victims a heart-breaking £27 million last year, according to the latest stats from Get Safe Online and the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB). Over 2,700 online dating related crimes were reported to the police over 12 months with the average loss standing at £10,000. However, the actual number of crimes is thought to be considerably higher, with victims not reporting them owing to embarrassment.
Almost two thirds (62%) of all victims are aged between 40-69 accounting for £16 million of the total losses. People aged between 50-59 are the most likely victims accounting for a quarter of all frauds and losing just over £6 million. Although those aged between 40-49 accounted for less of the reported fraud, (22%) overall losses were greater at £8 million.
Almost two thirds (64%) of all romance scams originated on dating sites, followed by social media (25%) and 10% via email. 2% of reported dating frauds orinigated via contact made on dating apps.
Tell-tale signs your online date may be a fraudster:
- They want to communicate with you through instant messaging and texts, rather than through the dating website or chat room where you met
- They ask you lots of questions about yourself, but don’t tell you much about themselves
- They don’t answer basic questions about where they live and work
- Their profile picture is too perfect – for example they look like an actor or Miss World titleholder
- They start asking you to send them money using a number of different scenarios such as:
- Claiming to be military personnel based overseas who require funds for flights home or early discharge from the forces
- Citing medical related issues they need money for such as a sudden need for surgery, either for the fraudster or the fraudster’s family member
- They’ve arranged to visit you but need money to pay travel costs
Get Safe Online recommends the following tips to make sure you’re safe online:
- Trust your instincts - if you think something feels wrong, it probably is
- Choose a site that will protect your anonymity until you choose to reveal personal information and that will enforce its policies against inappropriate use
- Do not post personal information, such as phone numbers, on dating sites
- Never send money or give credit card or online account details to anyone you don’t know and trust
- Wait until you feel comfortable with an individual before telling them things like your phone number, place of work or address
- Be extremely wary about removing clothes or doing other things in front of your webcam that could be used against you - even if you think you know the other party
- Use a dating site that offers the ability to email prospective dates using a service that conceals both parties’ true email addresses
- Set up a separate email account that does not use your real name
- Pick a user name that does not include any personal information. For example, “joe_glasgow” or “jane_liverpool” would be bad choices
- Finally, meet for the first few times in a safe place with plenty of people around, and tell a family member or friend where you are
If you think you have been a victim of fraud you should report it to Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud reporting centre by calling 0300 123 20 40 or by visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk. For further advice on how to stay safe online go to www.GetSafeOnline.org.