Dating apps and websites are a popular way to meet someone new online, however, there are fraudsters out there who take advantage of those looking for love. As Valentine’s Day approaches, this is the ideal time for fraudsters to target those who are on dating apps and websites.

Although most dating apps are legitimate, there are some steps to take to ensure that you’re not speaking to a fraudster.  

Common steps to romance fraud: 

  • Cyber criminals begin by getting a full picture of their victim. This is done by searching through profiles and putting information together such as the victim’s wealth and lifestyle.  
  • The scam then tends to start with the fraudster making the initial contact with the victim. The fraudster will often ask the victim many questions about themselves. Gaining personal information makes it easier for them to manipulate their victims, but it also deceives the victim into trusting that the criminal is interested in them.    
  • The conversation turns from friendly to romantic very quickly, often giving the victim lots of compliments.  
  • Fraudsters will avoid meeting the victim in person or via video and come up with excuses each time. They will continue to message for weeks or even months to build up trust.  
  • Eventually the fraudster will ask for money, often using an emotive story that rushes the victim into sending over money.  

Protect yourself when meeting people online with these tips: 

  • Don’t accept any money from someone that you have just met online. Criminals can ask for people they meet on dating websites to take money from them, but you can’t be sure where this money has come from, and it could be illegal.  
  • Only use reputable dating websites and apps.  
  • Be careful of the information that you share online. Don’t share any personal information that a criminal could use to manipulate you.  
  • Be cautious about people who try to quickly move the conversation onto text, email, or WhatsApp. These platforms are less regulated which means they are less safe for you. If you don’t know someone personally, stay speaking to them on dating apps and websites.  
  • Stay vigilant when dating online. Never send money to someone you’ve met online, despite the reason they give you. Fraudsters will come up with very convincing stories that usually have an emotive reason behind them. They will try to convince you to send money quickly to rush you to do it before you have a chance to think about it.  
  • Report any dating profiles that you find suspicious. It’s likely that the fraudster is scamming more than one person at a time, therefore, reporting a fraudulent profile could protect others as well as yourself.   

If you have been a victim of a scam, please report the crime to Police Scotland. For more information on Romance Fraud, visit Police Scotland’s website.  

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