Urgent fraud warning issued to all men in their twenties over online dating scams | #DatingScams | #LoveScams | #RomanceScans

Which? has issued an urgent warning to all men in their twenties, after police data suggested that more and more young men are falling for online dating scams. Also known as catfish – online fraudsters pose as fake profiles on popular dating apps and sites, as well as social media platforms to make a connection with unsuspecting victims.

They then spend weeks or months grooming a victim, before asking for ‘help’ or suggesting that the person on the other side of the computer or phone invests in a lucrative investment ‘opportunity’. However, this is more often than lot a cheap con to steal hard-earned cash.

A recent report by UK Finance detailed how bank customers lost £18.5million to romance scams between January and June 2023, with a total of 2,120 cases reported. This was up by 26 per cent when compared to the same timeframe a year earlier. Action Fraud meanwhile put losses at more than double this, with a total of £43.4million and 4,109 cases from the same period.

Most of the dating scam reports came from males (48 per cent), with men between the ages of 20 and 209-years-old filing the most reports in total (1,200). However, the average loss tends to be higher for females according to the consumer champions – £13,000 to a man’s £7,400.

And it’s not just dating sites where romance fraudsters tend to dwell, with Which? previously uncovering that scammers were targeting vulnerable people on charity-backed Facebook pages for those discussing mental health, ageing, and bereavement. Jim Winters, who is Nationwide’s Director of Economic Crime, explained that anyone can be targeted.

He said: “All sorts of online forums can be used to create a friendship; it doesn’t need to be a specific dating site. However, these are only the starting point for conversations as criminals will always aim to get them off these sites to communicate via text/WhatsApp for example.

“They will try to strike up a friendship with the victim to create an opportunity where they can appear to have money troubles whereby the victim will often offer financial assistance, often without a direct request being made.”

To help people avoid being scammed, Which? has broken down seven tell tale signs that you may be dating an online fraudster.

1) Their profile is ‘too good to be true’

Illegitimate profiles will likely use stock images or photos copied from another person’s profile. Thankfully, you can perform a reverse image search to find out where a photo came from.

2) They try to switch platforms fast

Fraudsters may also typically try to move the conversation onto another app, as they may be being monitored. So if someone suggests that you switch sites or apps to chat to them, they could be a scammer.

3) They try to build an emotional connection fast

Experts detail how scammers may fabricate tragedies or dramatic events to draw in empathy from you. You may also be encouraged to keep their chats secret.

4) They don’t want to meet in person

Someone who promises to meet and then cancels last minute is a red flag, while refusing to appear on camera is too. These scammers will often claim to be working abroad, so there’s no possibility of you ever coming into contact with them. And even if they do agree to a face to face video call, this could be deepfaked/doctored.

5) They ask you for money or gifts

If it is a scammer, it will only be a matter of time before they ask you for money, gifts or pre-loaded cards. They may only ask for something small at first, but it’s all downhill from there – and they may try to guilt trip you by saying the funding is for urgent bills, travel and visa costs or health issues to twist your hand.

6) Steer clear of investment opportunities

Another method that scammers try to use is offering supposed investment opportunities or trading tips. They’ll claim that you can make easy money, but you should never invest in anything your don’t understand fully.

7) They ask to use your bank account

If someone you didn’t know walked up to you on the street and asked for your bank details, you wouldn’t give them out. So why would you do so to a stranger on the internet? Many of these scammers will make up an excuse to transfer money into your account and back out, however, this could be a money laundering ploy, so beware.

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National Cyber Security