Users of dating sites have been warned to be weary of romance scams between Christmas Day and Valentine’s Day. This is because during this time, scammers are out in full force seeking to establish contact and build rapport with victims and extort them for money. According to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB), just last year, losses soared from £8.7m last March to £14.6m in May. Losses for the entire year were recorded at astonishing £92m, based on 8,863 reported cases. That being said, figures are predicted to be much higher, as many victims are ashamed to report being targeted and don’t get the police involved.
The City of London Police has warned of the scammers’ tactics and what individuals should be on the lookout for: “typically, romance fraudsters will spend weeks gaining their victims’ trust, feeding them fabricated stories about who they are and their lives – and initially make no suggestion of any desire to ask for any money, so the victim may believe their new love interest is genuine. But weeks, or sometimes months later, these criminals will ask for money for a variety of emotive reasons, and as the emotional relationship has already been formed, victims often transfer money without a second thought.”
Users are advised not to fall for these tricks, and under no circumstances share money with anyone, whether that be to pay for travel to visit the victim, emergency medical expenses or investment opportunities.