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Saturday, 23 March

The Peril Of The New Romantics

The Peril Of The New Romantics

With more and more people using dating Apps to find love (whether it be the week Valentine's Day falls or not) and doing so utilising company devices, the potential for a fauxmance hitting both staff and the company has risen hugely.

In fact, the latest stats say victims have lost over £50 million to romance fraud in the past year alone. Reports made to Action Fraud reveal that a staggering £50,766,602 was lost in 2018 – an average of £11,145 per victim and a 27% increase on the previous year.

 

What is romance fraud?

Romance fraud happens when a person thinks they have met the perfect partner through an online dating website, App or through social media, but in fact a fraudster is using a fake profile to form a relationship with them. They will gain the person’s trust and ask for money or enough personal information to steal the victim’s identity.

New statistics released this week (ahead of February 14) reveal that many people across the UK continue to fall victim to this type of fraud, often with devastating consequences. In 2018, 4,555 reports of romance fraud were made to Action Fraud.

Not only are victims losing vast amounts of money, the emotional impact this may have can be even more difficult to come to terms with. In a report produced by Action Fraud, 42% of victims described falling victim to romance fraud as having a significant impact on their health or financial well-being - including causing suicidal thoughts.

 

Spinsters - single, divorced, separated

The report also showed that the average age of a romance fraud victim is 50 and that 63% of dating fraud victims are female who lose twice as much on average than males.

Action Fraud believes that these numbers do not accurately represent the true scale of the problem. Some people may feel embarrassed to have fallen victim which may discourage them from coming forward to report their experience.

 

Raising awareness

Action Fraud is working with the Date Safe working group to raise awareness of the risks of romance fraud in the UK. The group’s members include Action Fraud and the City of London Police, Get Safe Online, the Metropolitan Police, Age UK, Victim Support, Scamalytics and the Online Dating Association (ODA).

Head of the City of London Police’s Economic Crime Department, Commander Karen Baxter, said: “As cases of romance fraud increase each year, so too does the cost to victims, both emotionally and financially. The emotional damage of falling victim to romance fraud can often be far more difficult to come to terms with.

“Together with our partners, we are urging people to spot the signs of romance fraud - for themselves and for friends and colleagues - and to follow the ‘Date Safe’ advice (see below) this Valentine’s Day and in the future."

 

New ways of working

CEO of the Online Dating Association, George Kidd, said: “Dating services are part of our social fabric, accounting for about a third of all new relationships. They are enjoyed by millions and we want everyone to have a great and safe experience. We ask users and their friends and colleagues to stay alert online just as they would in any other walk of life - be wary of those who shower you with loving messages instantly, but may not want to meet. And, no one you meet online should ever ask you for money.”

Chief Officer at independent charity Victim Support, Diana Fawcett, said: “It’s important that victims know there is help available to them and we would encourage them to seek support.”

Picture: Online dating fraud in the UK cost victims a heart-breaking £50,766,602 last year, according to Action Fraud

 

As ever, ThisWeekinFM encourages all readers to share links or cut and paste any or all of the material contained in this article and distribute it to all staff in your organisation.

 

Date Safe tips on how to avoid a #fauxmance

  • Don’t rush into an online relationship – get to know the person, not the profile and ask plenty of questions.

  • Analyse their profile and 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.

  • Evade scammers by never sending money to or sharing your bank details with, someone you’ve met online, no matter what reason they give or how long you've been speaking to them.

  • Stay on the dating site messenger service until you’re confident the person is who they say they are. If you do decide to meet in person, make sure the first meeting is in a public place and let someone else know where you’re going to be.

Article written by Brian Shillibeer

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