Fraud officers are investigating 30 cases where people looking for partners have been scammed, often pawning jewellery and taking out loans as a result of the elaborate hoaxes. In a typical scam, the fraudster identifies potential victims through a dating site. He then tailors his personality to suit what the victim is looking for, for example a man in the army, and then finds a picture of someone in the military from the internet, which he will use in his profile. Compliments are usually offered and questions asked of the woman so that the fraudster can ascertain how much money the woman has and whether the scam is worth pursuing. In the vast majority of cases it is women who are the victims, although there has the been the occasional male. The fraudster will aim to take the person offline, to coax them away from the confines of the dating site and continue the relationship via Skype or email.
Online dating fraud: How to identify the most likely scammer profiles
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A widow scammed out of her life savings by a man she met on a dating app has said it made her feel like she had "lost a loved one" again. Dyfed-Powys Police said there had been a significant increase in romance fraud during the coronavirus pandemic. Rebecca Jones, fraud safeguarding officer for the force, said men and women aged from 18 to years-old had been targeted after looking for love online. In June, July and August this year, more than reports were made to the hotline a month, indicating an increase in scams during the pandemic. Widow Carole [not her real name] said she met an "attentive, affectionate and funny" man on a dating site, who told her he was widowed, and she fell in love. But Carole, who lives in west Wales, said he soon asked her for a loan, claiming his bank card had been frozen, but six months after she sent him money she found he was using someone else's photo online and "my world fell apart". He managed to convince her he was not a fraudster though, and she continued to send him money despite suspicions.
Online dating apps and websites are a very popular way for people to meet each other. Studies suggest that more than 10 million people use online dating services in the UK, making it the single largest source of new relationships. With the popularity of online dating, we have seen an increase in sexual assaults as a result of people meeting up after speaking on dating websites or apps.