Written by CGD - Mon 12th Oct 2020
The search for love is for most people, the biggest journey they will undertake in their entire lives. But, with so many people on the planet, and with many of us living lives that are busier and more hectic than ever before, that search can quickly become frustrating and exasperating.
It is, therefore, no surprise that internet dating has grown in prominence over the last decade or so. In fact, there are reportedly around 1500 dating sites, and nearly every singleton will have been on at least one website or app that promises to deliver them the relationship they have been craving.
Sadly, people aren't always what they seem. Dating sites, social networks, and other internet services are targetted by scammers. Scammers want one thing only - your money.
Anyone can hide behind a computer screen, tablet, or phone and be who they want to be. We have become a nation of keyboard warriors and whilst this gives us freedom on the one hand we have had to negotiate challenges on the other hand. Sometimes when you're excited about someone, your instincts can be confused by strong feelings. Take care and take your time when you communicate with another person.
There is a limit to an online dating provider's ability to check the backgrounds of users and verify the information they provide. They are unable to carry out a criminal records check on users. Therefore, don't be lulled into a false sense of security because you're on a dating site; do your own research and learn more about the other person. Check to see whether the person you are interested in is on other social networking sites like Facebook, do a web search to see if there are other records of the person online, and try to use google image search to check the profile photo.
Lockdown due to Covid-19 has restricted the way we date and meet people online; there has been a reported increase of 25 percent in romance scams. Scammers have become sophisticated in their approach to convince you to part with your money and their sob stories are getting far more creative.
Scammers prey on your emotions and reel you in until you feel sorry for their predicament - a false sob story that blatantly rings of a false situation. The average financial loss to scammers is £10,000 and some losses are much higher, some victims have lost in excess of £60,000. Remember to keep your bank information private. Don't be afraid to stop all contact immediately if you suspect you are corresponding with a scammer and report the matter to the dating site.
Overseas teams of scammers account for 70 percent of financial fraud. It isn't just the money that they steal from you, it's the emotional damage that the scammers cause and that can have a negative impact on the victim's self-respect, feelings of shame, and self-blaming.
Remember this a business to the scammers. They practice tugging at heartstrings, by showing tenderness or preying on innocent victim's neediness. They tell people what they want to hear and their sole objective is to extort money from you and transfer it to their bank account.
If you have been a victim of actual or attempted fraud, report it to Action Fraud, the UK's national fraud reporting centre by calling 0300 123 20 40 or by visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk.