Warning to be wary of online dating agencies issued
A group of organisations have come together to help tackle ‘dating fraud’ and warn internet users of the dangers they can face when looking for love online.
New figures released by Action Fraud UK show that it receives an average of seven reports of dating fraud a day, which equates to one every three hours. Victims lose, on average, £10,000 per incident and statistics show that most will make the first transfer to the fraudster within one month of contact, highlighting how quickly they can be stripped of their money.
Nearly £40 million was lost through dating fraud between 2015 and 2016, with 3,889 reports made in total.
However, evidence suggests that this doesn’t accurately represent the true scale of dating fraud due to the embarrassment felt by some victims of fraud which can discourage them from coming forward to report their experience.
Commander Chris Greany, City of London Police and National Coordinator for Economic Crime, said: “The growth in online dating has led to a rise in organised criminals targeting people looking for love.
“These crimes destroy lives and the emotional damage often far outweighs the financial loss.
“Never give money to people you meet online, no matter what emotional sob story the person uses.”
To help reduce the risk, Victim Support and Age UK, along with City of London Police, Metropolitan Police Service and Get Safe Online are working in partnership with the Online Dating Association. Here they intend to give people a better understanding of how fraudsters operate and how they can lower the number of victims with their five #datesafe tips.
Online daters are encouraged not to rush into a relationship and for them to “get to know the person, not the profile”.
They are also advised to check whether the person they have come across is genuine by typing their name, pictures, repeatedly-used phrases and ‘dating scam’ into a search engine.
The group suggests that you involve your friends and family by talking about your dating options and be wary of people who tell you not to mention them to others. When it comes to money, it is clear in stating that you should never send it online, no matter how long you’ve been talking to someone.
Finally, it recommends that users never move the conversation off the dating site messenger until they are confident the person they are talking to is who they say they are.