Warning following increase in online dating scams
Shropshire Council’s public protection team is warning people not to fall for ‘romance scams’ or ‘money scams’, following a recent increase in both in the county that have seen people conned out of amounts ranging from £5000 to £80,000.
Romance scams generally involve a fraudster posing online as someone else and promising a relationship or marriage, in order to obtain money from their intended victim.
Recent examples include someone contacting their victim through Facebook saying they were in the army but want to get out, and that they want to find love when they do. They told their target that they wanted to send them something expensive in the post but first needed the money to pay for the delivery costs.
Likewise, fraudsters have been creating false profiles on dating websites, then promising their victim a relationship and asking for money so that they can come over and see them.
They have also told their intended victims that they want to visit them but need money for the flight; that a family member is sick and they need money for hospital bills; and even that they are supporting the local orphanage and need money.
The advice is:
- Be alert.
- These people are looking for your money and not for a relationship.
- Don’t believe everything you are told on dating websites.
- Never send money to anyone asking for it.
- Remember that people can easily post a photo of someone else to hide their identity.
Money scams involved fraudsters telling their intended victim that there is fraudulent activity involving their bank account or debit/credit card, in order to obtain money from them. These people often know a great deal about their target and can sound very plausible.
The advice is:
- Don’t be fooled by scammers telling you there is fraudulent activity involving your bank account, debit/credit cards
- However plausible they sound, stay alert and don’t give your personal details to anyone and never hand over any money.
- Seek advice from your bank with regard to phone calls you may have received from fraudsters. Call from another phone line if possible, or wait for 15 minutes before calling.
Gillian Denning, public protection officer, said:
“When I work with victims of scams, however small or large an amount of money they have sent the scammer, people feel ashamed and foolish that they have fallen for something and been sucked in and become a victim.
“I would ask you to please speak to someone, a friend, Citizens Advice, your bank if you think you are being scammed. Confide in them and seek advice before continuing to hand over your money, however convincing it sounds. If something sounds too good to be true, it usually is.”
If you have any concerns about scams, call Citizens Advice on 03454 04 05 06.