Thousands of people continue to fall victim to romance fraud in the United Kingdom, where victims were conned out of £41 million in 2017 alone.
The figure was released by City of London police ahead of Valentine’s Day, said Action Fraud, a UK-based organisation which received 3,557 romance frauds reports last year, averaging 10 reports a day.
Romance fraud occurs when “someone creates a fake identity to enter into a relationship with a victim with the intent to steal either funds or personal information.”
“Those who fall victim to these frauds are almost twice as likely to be women, [63% compared with 37% of men],” the organisation stated.
“Evidence suggests [the] numbers do not accurately represent the true scale of the problem due to the embarrassment felt by some victims of fraud, which can discourage people from coming forward to report their experience,” it added.
Meanwhile, a working group #DateSafe , which includes City of London Police, Victim Support and Age UK, has been formed with the aim of raising awareness of the risks of romance fraud in the UK.
The new group was also tasked with publishing some tips online as a part of a campaign to help inform and protect users of dating sites and apps ahead of Valentine’s Day.
The tips include not rushing into an online relationship, evading scammers by never sending money or sharing bank details with an online acquaintance.
City of London Police’s Commander Dave Clark, the National Co-ordinator for Economic Crime, said: “Callous criminals will target vulnerable victims for their own monetary gain and our latest intelligence tells us that women in their forties are the most likely to be tricked in this way.
“We are therefore urging people to spot the signs of dating fraud in order to protect themselves and to follow the ‘Date Safe’ advice this Valentine’s Day and in the future.”