Swipe left to romance fraud: Family members of online daters urged to help protect their relatives
Officers from Northamptonshire Police are supporting a national campaign to urge families to protect their relatives from becoming a victim of romance fraud after county residents lost more than £700,000 through dating scams last year.
Daters who strike up online relationships between Christmas and Valentine's Day tend to be the most susceptible to romance fraud, however a total of 117 reports were recorded in the county throughout 2021.
Figures released by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) also showed that 56 per cent of victims of this type of fraud in Northamptonshire were female compared to 36 per cent males.
While those aged 60-69 recorded the highest number of romance frauds with the police receiving 24 reports, followed closely by the 50-59 age group with 23, 30-39 years (19), 40-49 years (18) and 20 to 29-year-olds (17).
Fraud Protect Officer PC Neil MacKenzie of the Force's Economic Crime Unit said: "Loneliness is a key element which fuels the need for an online relationship, which allows fraudsters the opportunity to manipulate their victims.
"Typically, a fraudster will spend weeks or even months grooming their victim with empathy and affection and fabricated stories of their lives, creating a believable background and importantly building trust!
"Initially there's no suggestion or desire to ask the victim for money so they may believe the love interest is genuine. However, once the emotional relationship has been formed, the fraudster will use a variety of emotive reasons to ask victims for money.
"Once they have received money, the fraudsters will keep coming back with more reasons to send more or will ask the victim to use their bank account to transfer money for them – this is money laundering.
"The financial loss alone is difficult to overcome with some victims losing their life-savings however it's the emotional impact on victims which can be devastating as they end up loving the person who scammed them.
"We want to do all we can to raise awareness of this heartless crime to prevent others from falling for it, which is why we are calling on family members who think their relatives may be dating online to help spread the message.
"We are asking families to speak to their relatives to ensure they are aware of the warning signs to look out for to help them avoid falling victim to fraud, especially if their loved one is not particularly tech savvy."
To read the press release in full, please click here
Posted: Tue, 11 Jan 2022 10:20 by Becky Jones