It is reported that in the current climate of ‘stay at home’ advice, March 2020, on-line dating has seen a spike.
Unfortunately what comes with this is the scams that are ramping up.
Targeting those who will be relatively new to the phenomena of online dating that they are venturing into during their isolation position.
This can be a great time to kindle romance, meeting up soon is not an option, so along with this surge in on-line relationships there are unfortunate pitfalls.
Here at Insight we have already seen several cases where Covid-19 has been referred to and financial assistance requested by online dating scammers for
- Obtaining Coronavirus testing
- Pay for hospital treatment for a son or daughter
- Obtain ‘permission’ to visit the UK
All of which have proved to be false. A blatant attempt to extract money never to be heard of again
Those receiving such emails and those who have begun an on-line relationship should be careful as to their authenticity.
“Ask sufficient questions of your correspondent and check whatever information you have been given until you are satisfied it is true and correct”
Although this has always been our advice it seems more prevalent in the current worldwide climate where the opportunist predator is constantly lurking.
Insight are here to offer free advice that may assist you in avoidance of the pitfalls.
Online dating websites and apps are one of the most popular ways to meet a new partner – with approximately 1400 sites being used in the U.K alone.
Users of these apps and sites are at an all-time high, but unfortunately, so is the number of people becoming victims of online dating fraud.
In 2019, fresh warnings were issued by Action Fraud in an article by Which.co.uk, after victims were conned out of more money than ever before to online dating fraud, collectively losing more than £50,000,000.
The article stated:
“it’s not just the financial loss that takes its toll: 42% of victims said the experience had a significant impact on their health or wellbeing. But Action Fraud says the numbers don’t accurately represent the true scale of the problem, as many victims are too embarrassed to report their experiences.”
What is online dating fraud?
Online dating fraudsters tend to take advantage of people looking for romantic partners by pretending to be their dream man or woman.
They then manipulate their online partner into believing that they are military personnel, or perhaps high standing company executives – when in fact they are often criminals from the UK and overseas.
Online fraudsters will typically have an upgraded, full memberships on online dating websites to appear genuine.
They will devise stories that they need a large sum of money in order to travel to meet the potential partner, or that they are in financial difficulties so need to borrow money straight away.
Some tend to engage in ‘long con’, whereas they will build up an online relationship with their target, in some cases refusing initial offers of financial assistance, in order to hook their target later for a substantial amount.
Other signs of internet dating fraud include:
- Asking for your phone number so they can text/instant message you.
- Ask a lot of questions to gather a lot of information about you. But will rarely offer a lot of information about themselves
- Avoid telling you where they are working or where they live.
- Their profile picture is ‘too’ perfect.
Recent cases of internet dating fraud have seen people lose in excess of £150,000 to internet partners. On occasion, the fraudsters return to their original target passing themselves off as a foreign government agency, who have ‘caught’ the cyber criminal and found the targets name on their files – they will then ask for further finance to ‘administer’ a refund after which they disappear.
Although some of these signs may seem perfectly reasonable, if you believe that you are being targeted by an online dating fraudster, then Insight Investigations can help you. Our team of investigators can carry out a background check on your potential date, to prove that they really are who they claim to be. Our investigations are wholly discreet.
How to avoid online dating scams
The internet is ripe for romance and unfortunately scams – so how do you avoid opening your heart and your wallet to internet scammers. Some of our tips to avoid being a victim of these fraudsters are:
- Don’t pursue a long-distance relationship with a stranger online, without getting some facts
- Never reveal personal data to someone, until you know who you are dealing with.
- Try to remain on the dating website messenger service.
- Don’t send any money or share bank details to anyone you meet online.
What to do if you think you’re a victim of an online dating scam
Despite the vetting of respectable and responsible dating sites, fraudsters such as these remain a serious problem for the unwary and vulnerable.
If you believe that you are being targeted by an online fraudster, and you are in any way unsure of the person you are corresponding with, then it may be worth arranging a background check by a private detective.
That way, you can rest assured knowing that the person you are chatting with is exactly who they say they are or can take the appropriate steps to report said person for any misdemeanour they may have already caused.
For any help or further information, call Insight’s experienced Private Investigators on 0800 540 4658.