Last week, five romance fraud cases were reported in Greater Manchester and the region’s police force has reacted quickly by publicising how to spot the signs and protect yourself and your friends and family from romance fraudsters.
In a statement released by Greater Manchester Police yesterday, this is the official advice given:
Romance scams involve people being persuaded to duped into sending money to criminals who gain trust and convince victims that they are in a genuine relationship.
Romance fraud is a serious offence that can leave victims feeling vulnerable and exploited, online dating has made it easier for criminals to use ways to scam unsuspecting victims from their money.
Emotive language is used to manipulate, persuade and exploit so that requests for money do not raise alarm bells. These requests can be highly emotive, such as criminals claiming they need money for emergency medical care, or to pay for transport costs to visit the victim if they are overseas. Scammers will often build a relationship with their victims over time.
How you can stay safe from romance scams:
– Be suspicious of any requests for money from someone you have never met in person, particularly if you have only recently met online.
– Let your family or friends know and ask for their advice or a second opinion.
– Profile photos may not be genuine, do your research first. Performing a reverse image search on a search engine can find photos that have been taken from somewhere, or someone else.
– Be wary if they refuse to video call or meet you in person.
It is important that no matter how long you’ve been speaking to someone online and how much you think you trust them, if you have not met them in person, it’s important that you do not:
– Send them any money
– Allow them access to your bank accounts
– Transfer money on their behalf
Spot the signs your friend or family member may be involved in a romance scam:
– They may be very secretive about their relationship or provide excuses for why their online partner has not video called or met them in person. They might become hostile or angry, and withdraw from conversation when you ask any questions about their partner
– They may express very strong emotions and commitment to someone they have only just met.
– They have sent, or are planning to send, money to someone they have not met face-to-face.
– They may take out loans or withdraw from their pension to send money.
How to report:
Romance fraud is a serious crime. If you suspect it, you must report it.
In the UK, the City of London Police‘s National Fraud Intelligence Bureau leads on the investigation of romance fraud and works with other law enforcement agencies, such as GMP, to pursue offenders.
They have also been working to identify and disrupt the networks of criminals behind these scams.
In addition, the Government has recently introduced legislation to better protect victims of online fraud and hold tech companies accountable for their role in enabling these crimes.
According to UK Finance, the trade association for the UK banking and financial services sector, romance fraud cost victims in the UK a total of £68 million in 2020, with the average loss per victim being around £10,000. However, it’s worth noting that this figure may not represent the true scale of the problem, as many victims may be too embarrassed or ashamed to report their losses to the authorities.
If you, or someone you know is vulnerable to Romance Fraud please report it online or call your local police force on 101.
Alternatively, you can report suspicions of Romance fraud anonymously to Scamalytics. Using an online form you can enter images, names and details of potential Romance fraudsters. This not only keeps yourself and your loved ones safe from Romance Fraud but could prevent others from falling victim too.
If you or someone you know has been a victim of Romance Fraud you can find further advice from Victim Support.
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Page last updated: Saturday 13th May, 2023 at 0845 hours
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