Woman fleeced out of €450k among 245 victims of dating scams | #DatingScams | #LoveScams | #RomanceScans

Gardaí have warned romantics to be wary of online scammers with victims fleeced out of €7m in recent years, including one woman losing more than €450,000.

Over €7m has been stolen over the last five years with criminals taking advantage of the increasing popularity of dating apps, according to gardaí.

Of the 245 victims that have come forward since 2020, the majority were female while their average financial loss was €28,500.

The highest reported loss in Ireland was over €450,000 which was stolen across 18 different transactions, while one male victim had more than €380,000 taken.

  • One woman in her 40s lost €35,000 across 100 transactions after a man she got into a relationship with online claimed that his construction business was failing and he required financial support.
  • Another woman in her 40s had €26,300 stolen last year after being added on Facebook by a man claiming to be a doctor in a worn-torn country who needed money to return home.
  • A man in his 50s lost €36,000 after meeting a woman online claiming to live in Asia. They agreed to pursue a relationship and began making arrangements for her to travel to Ireland.

After matching online, the culprits quickly encourage their victim to move to a messaging app or email. Gardaí warned that requests for money usually start off small and are initially repaid to build trust.

“In time, the requests will increase in amount and before a victim necessarily realises it, they’re being pressured to pay anything from essential medical bills and custom duties, to purchasing flights and visas,” a garda spokesperson said.

Requests for money can also take the form of investment opportunities, convincing the victim that they will make a quick profit.

Once the victim begins to ask questions about their money and it has become apparent that it has been stolen, the victim is then blocked.

Garda National Economic Crime Bureau Detective Superintendent, Michael Cryan, said victims will be convinced that they have met the perfect match online, but are instead being “terribly deceived”.

“It becomes a huge invasion of privacy and a breach of trust which can impact your whole view of people and the possibility of romance, but it’s important to remember that this is fraud and it is a crime.

“It is often the case that a victim’s money is transferred overseas to fund organised criminal activities such as terrorism, human trafficking, people smuggling and even corruption.”

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