People looking for love have been warned to ‘Date Safe’ (#datesafe) as part of a new campaign launched in the run up to Valentine’s Day in a bid to battle online dating fraudsters.
The Online Dating Association has teamed up with the City of London Police, the Metropolitan Police Service, charities Age UK and Victim Support, and government backed information resource, Get Safe Online, to combat the increasing problem of online dating fraud.
There was a 32% increase in reports of dating fraud over a two-year period from January 2013 to January 2015, according to the latest figures published by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB).
Meanwhile, the total amount lost to online conmen between February 2015 and 2016 is £40 million – an average of £10,000 per person - 45% of victims say the fraud had a “significant” impact on their health or financial wellbeing.
To give a sense of how widespread the issue is, there is apparently one victim every three hours.
Detective inspector Gary Miles, from the Met’s Fraud and Linked Crime Online unit (FALCON), says: “This campaign is the beginning of a collaboration designed to prevent these type of offences from occurring, by raising awareness among the public and by identifying and targeting the key techniques that the suspects use. Please use the dating tips as it will help you to avoid becoming victim to these despicable criminals."
Said dating tips are as follows:
- Get to know the person, not the profile, and ask plenty of questions - don’t rush into an online relationship.
- Check the person is genuine by putting their name, profile pictures or any repeatedly used phrases and the term ‘dating scam’ into your search engine.
- Talk to your friends and family about your dating choices. Be wary of anyone who tells you not to tell others about them.
- Never send money to someone you’ve met online, no matter what reason they give or how long you've been speaking to them.
- Don’t move the conversation off the dating site messenger until you’re confident the person is who they say they are.
You can report any dating fraud to Action Fraud at www.actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040. Also, look out for the hashtag #datesafe on social media.