ROMANCE SCAMS

/ 31 January 2019

Romance frauds are on the rise. The scam involves a fraudster contacting a vulnerable person using a dating site. The fraudster then cons the victim, often scamming them out of an awful lot of money. Brits were defrauded out of £41 million due to romance fraud in 2017.

These scams are usually carried out from abroad, so they will rarely meet in person. Romance Fraudsters usually pretend that they are coming to visit the UK but something will stop them, such as an accident. Sometimes victims travel to Gatwick and call police to report partner missing. Sadly, the scale of romance fraud devastates victims and can often lead to suicide

Eamonn told the audience about how Sally had sadly been affected by the scam. When Sally’s partner of 23 years passed away, she met a man on a dating website. He claimed to be from Manchester, and charmed her by sending her flowers and champagne. She sent him £10,000 over a period of three months, after he claimed to have lost his passport and wallet and that his daughter was unwell. Sally’s daughter eventually realised what was going on, and stepped in to end the scam.

Michael then explained about how these scams have affected Charles and his mother Marion (not their real names). Marion was scammed after she lost her husband of 45 years. She was speaking to a man who claimed to be an oil tycoon. This man supported her whilst she was mourning. He asked Marion for money so that he could return to the UK, and that he would pay her back. She ended up sending him her life savings of over £100,000. Sadly, Charles has not been able to get any of the money back.

Bernadette Lawrie, Financial Abuse Safeguarding Officer at Sussex Police, advised – never give out personal details to someone you’ve never met, and never send money to someone you’ve never met.

The Sussex Police programme Operation Signature categorises all victims of romance fraud as vulnerable. They are likely to be lonely, divorced or bereaved. They have two Vulnerable Fraud Caseworkers who visit the victims that require additional support following a police intervention. Most of these victims have suffered at the hands of romance fraudsters. They are the ‘hardest convince’ that they need help, due to the manipulation that they have endured.

If you’d like to find out more about the Romance Fraud advice that Sussex Police gives, please visit: https://sussex.police.uk/advice/protect-yourself-and-others/fraud/dating-and-romance-fraud/

If you’d like to find out more about what ScamWatch has to say about Romance Fraud, visit: https://www.scamwatch.gov.au/types-of-scams/dating-romance

If you’d like to find out more about what Action Fraud has to say about Romance Fraud, visit: https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/news/victims-lost-41-million-to-romance-fraud-in-2017

If you’d like to find out more about the Little Book of Big Scams, visit: www.financialfraudaction.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/The-Little-Book-of-Big-Scams-–-Third-Edition.pdf