How fraudsters using fake online dating profiles have conned victims out of nearly £1m

Romance fraud has cost Suffolk singletons thousands of pounds Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Romance fraud has cost Suffolk singletons thousands of pounds Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Romance fraud has cost the county over £900,000 in the past 13 months, say Suffolk police as they back a national awareness campaign.

There have been 79 reports of romance fraud in the county with losses up to £907,800 reported.

A week long social media campaign has been held this week to highlight the issue.

Romance fraud, or dating fraud, occurs when you think you’ve met the perfect partner online but they are using a fake profile to form a relationship.

They gain your trust over a number of weeks or months and have you believe you are in a loving and caring relationship.

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However, the criminal’s end goal is only ever to get money or personal information.

T/DCI Nicola Wallace said: “Such a crime exploits people both emotionally and financially to exploit and defraud them. While the majority of people you interact with are genuine, criminals can target any online platforms where there is a messaging function to strike up a conversation and build a friendship or romantic relationship with you.

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“They will spend hours researching you for their scams, especially when committing romance fraud. Stop and think. It could protect you and your money. They will invent lies about needing medical treatment, or urgent travel expenses to leave a country, or funds to keep afloat after a bogus job loss caused by the pandemic. It’s important to be aware that not everyone is who they say they are. If in doubt, talk to someone you trust.”

Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore said: “So-called romance fraud is a particularly cruel crime, as victims are targeted both financially and emotionally. It affects people of all ages, in all walks of life.

“These heartless fraudsters prey on those looking for love and the victims are often exploited out of significant amounts of money, in some cases hundreds of thousands of pounds.

“It may not seem like a very romantic start to a relationship but it makes sense to follow the ‘Date Safe’ advice on the Action Fraud website before getting too involved and remember no one you meet online should ever ask you for money.

“If you have been victim of a romance fraud it is important to report it to Action Fraud – you are not alone and your action may help prevent others falling victim too.”

Anyone who has been a victim of a scam should contact their bank and report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or online.

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