2020 sees a boom in online romance fraud
The UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime says romance fraud has cost victims £63m in 2020.
Action Fraud says they have had over 6,000 cases reported to them this year, up more than 800 on 2019. These often result from ‘cat-fishing’, where a scammer creates a fake profile on a dating site in order to woo a victim before then either asking them for money, or convincing them to hold money which is often stolen. It is thought many more cases have gone unreported through embarrassment.
2020 has seen dozens of heartbreaking stories of women and men looking for love who were duped into parting with tens of thousands of pounds, and in one case alone £320,000, after being exploited by convincing scammers.
Alex Rothwell, interim Detective Chief Superintendent at City of London Police, told Sky News: “Scammers typically assume a persona of strength and dependability – so they’ll say that they are things like a doctor, or in the military serving overseas.
“And of course in this past year, where the pandemic has made it genuinely harder to meet people in person, that may have been exploited by scammers to manipulate victims, who are more isolated, vulnerable and spending more time online.”
The number of people falling victim to online scammers is likely to be much larger than reported. A recent survey by insurance company Aviva showed that more than 1 in 10 people has been a victim of romance fraud, with 62% saying they were too embarrassed to admit the crime to either the authorities or friends and family.
Action Fraud has plenty of advice on how to date safely and how to avoid being scammed, available from their website.
Conflict International is always here to help if you become suspicious of someone you have struck up an online relationship with. We have decades of experience in surveillance as a means of gathering intelligence on someone who might be scamming you. We can deploy professional investigators to uncover their digital movements as part of an investigation, and report our findings back to you so you can uncover the truth.
To discuss a particular case or our services in more detail, please contact us in strict confidence on +44 (0)20 7917 2939 or email [email protected]