South Wales Police are urging online daters to protect themselves so they do not fall victim to fraud.
Every day, seven reports of dating fraud are received by Action Fraud – on average one every three hours which is an increase of 32% over a two year period (from January 2013-December 2015) according to new national figures released today by City of London Police (CoLP).
Within just 30 days, the average victim of dating fraud will make their first transfer of money to the fraudster, with almost half (45%) of victims who reported to Action Fraud said that the crime had a ‘significant’ impact on their health or financial wellbeing
Alun Michael, Police and Crime Commissioner for South Wales, said: “Internet enabled crime can take a number of forms and with the most romantic day of the year tomorrow we would like to remind people that fraudsters do target people who look for love online.
“This can have a devastating effect, especially as the fraudsters take the time to build up a rapport with victims.
“It is really important to be vigilant when dating on the internet and not to give money to someone you have only met online. The fraudsters can use various tactics to convince you they need the money urgently for example for medical care but we advise you to speak to family and friends about any requests and not to part with funds.”
In July 2015 a Cardiff man who claimed to be an American solider serving in Afghanistan defrauded two women of more than £250,000.
The 38-year-old used a photograph of a man wearing full military uniform as his profile picture on the website match.com and claimed he needed the money to arrange leave from the army.
He was sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison at Cardiff Crown Court in July 2015. A confiscation hearing found that he had a benefitted £253,347 from his crime and was ordered that £200,707 was repaid to his two victims who reside in Denmark. He also has three months to arrange the sale of the land in Nigeria to repay the remaining money.
Victim Support (VS) and Age UK along with the City of London Police, London Metropolitan Police (FALCON) (8) and Get Safe Online will, in a first for the UK, all work in partnership with the Online Dating Association to better understand how fraudsters operate and how they can most effectively share safety messages to users of online dating sites and apps with the aim of reducing the number of people falling victim to fraud.
The partnership will bring together leaders from multiple sectors: technology; law enforcement and the charity sector, bringing expertise to the issue, and working together collaboratively for the first time. They will also widely publicise five #datesafe tips across their websites and social media platforms for users of dating sites and apps.