Online dating scammers are not out to steal your heart - instead they want to steal your cash!
Every year Warwickshire Police and West Mercia Police investigate many cases where fraudsters have tricked money out of unsuspecting victims on internet dating sites - sometimes thousands of pounds.
Last year in the UK, online dating scammers conned their dates out of £33 million.
Anna Moore investigates the crooks who target smart, successful women Using a fake profile on the popular dating site (they operated as ‘Christian Anderson’, a divorced engineer), the pair managed to persuade a newly divorced mother of two to sign over a staggering £1.6 million, some of it her own, the rest borrowed from family and friends.
According to police, such fraud increased by 16 per cent in 2014-15, with recorded losses of more than £33 million.
Judith Lathlean, a 67-year-old, Oxford-educated professor, made headlines in December last year when she courageously revealed how she had paid £140,000 to a man she met on a dating site (but never met face to face).
Scammers take advantage of the anonymity of the internet to create the 'perfect profile', making any number of promises to tempt their victims to letting their defences down. This will not happen immediately, however before long the scammer will ask for financial help for any number of reasons.
Almost always they will ask you to send money using an untraceable source such as electronic money transfer services (even using legitimate services, such as Western Union or Moneygram).
In some cases, online dating services are themselves engaged in misrepresentation, displaying profiles which have been fabricated, which use personal information from users who have not agreed to be depicted on the site social accounts, classified sites and even forums to groom new victims.
Scammers can sign up to online dating agencies or chat rooms just like anyone else.
Many online dating sites allow anyone to join for free and they usually do not screen their members.
Letters are exchanged between the scammer and victim until the scammer feels they have groomed the victim enough to ask for money.
This might be for requests for gas money or bus and airplane tickets to travel to visit the victim, medical expenses, education expenses etc.