Online dating fraud in the UK cost victims a heart-breaking Â£27 million last year, according to the latest stats from the City of London Policeâ€™s National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) and Get Safe Online.
Over 2,700 online dating related crimes were reported to Action Fraud over 12 months with the average loss standing at Â£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 Â£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 Â£6 million.Â
Almost two thirds (64%) of all romance scams originated on dating sites, followed by social media (25%) and 10% via email. Only 2% of reported dating frauds originated via contact made on dating apps.Â
City of London Policeâ€™s Commander Chris Greany, the Police National Coordinator for Economic Crime said: â€œRomance fraudsters are using every method available to exploit people looking for love - including dating websites, social media and direct emails. These heartless criminals will specifically target those who they deem to be vulnerable and most likely to fall for their scams. Our intelligence tells us that people aged 50-59 are the most likely to become a victim of dating fraud and therefore need to be especially careful when going online in search of a partner.Â â€œKey advice to follow which will help you stay safe includes never sending funds to someone you have never met. If youâ€™re in two minds always consult with a trusted friend or family member who will be able to view the situation objectively and provide another opinion on the situation.
â€œIt is also very important that if you think you are being targeted or have been a victim of dating fraud to report to Action Fraud. Sharing this information will help us identify and track down these heartless criminals who have absolutely no regard for peopleâ€™s emotional or financial well beingâ€.
They start asking you to send them money using a number of different scenarios such as:
To report a fraud and receive a police crime reference number, call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or use our online fraud reporting tool.Â For further advice on how to stay safe online go to www.GetSafeOnline.org.