/ Money

Have you fallen victim to online dating fraud?

As part of an upcoming story regarding online dating fraud, we’re looking to speak with anyone who has an experience to share. Can you help?

In the age of the smartphone, online dating has become a prominent way of looking for love.

But instead of finding romance, some have unfortunately encountered scammers trying to trick them into sending money.

On Valentine’s Day last year we discussed ‘scambaiting’ here on Which? Conversation – now we’re looking to hear directly from anyone who may have a story to tell.

‘Asked for money’

New research from UK finance has found over a fifth of people using online dating services say they have either been asked for money or have given money to someone that they met online.

To make matters worse, romance scams are on the rise, up 64% in the first half of 2019 compared with the same period the year before.

The popularity of online dating services in an evolving digital world makes it easier for fraudsters to target victims – 55% of people who use online dating services are leaving themselves vulnerable to being scammed.

This happens when a great deal of trust is built by the scammer without meeting them in real life.

Have you encountered a romance scam?

If you’ve ever been involved in anything like this, or have spotted suspicious profiles on dating apps and websites, we’d like to hear from you.

By sharing your experience we hope to raise awareness and warn others of the threats posed, and also encourage people to come forward. As we said last year, romance scams go notoriously underreported.

We understand that this is a sensitive issue, with victims going through a huge amount of emotional turmoil during such a cruel scam.

Therefore, if you would like to come forward anonymously, please email:

conversation.comments@which.co.uk

The team will then put you in contact with me directly.

Furthermore, if you are a victim and you feel you need support after going through something like this, please do contact Samaritans or other victim support charities.

Comments

I really look forward to reading more about this. I have known of friends and friends of friends who have been through situations like this and it’s always shocking to hear about it. I think it’s so important that people share their experiences so that others can be more aware of this type of fraud.

From what I have read this seems to affect people of all ages and sexes and preys on the fact that people looking for a new relationship are likely to be quite suggestible and have lowered their defences in order to keep their field of search as wide open as possible.

Nothing one reads on line about a person and no photograph should be taken as the truth until it can be corroborated face-to-face. Going quickly to e-mail or telephone communication can be a trap, usually under false persuasion.

One consequence of dating fraud is that it makes the people affected feel guilty, and annoyed about their presumed ‘gullibility’ [as well as any financial loss]. It inhibits their further ventures into finding a new relationship; and in turn this has a compounding effect that can be mentally and psychologically debilitating.