Online dating has become a very popular way to meet someone new.
The majority of accounts on dating websites are genuine people looking for romance, but fraudsters have been known to target those looking for love.
Cyber criminals “meet” people on dating sites, then take the conversation onto private messaging, build up a picture of their victim, then take any opportunity to steal money from them. Criminals who commit romance fraud trawl through profiles and piece together information such as wealth and lifestyle, in order to manipulate their victims.
Here is some practical advice for how to keep yourself and your bank account and savings protected whilst meeting people online.
- Be a smart online dater: never send money or your bank details to someone you’ve met only online, regardless of how convincing a reason they’ve given. Romance fraudsters will spend weeks gaining their victims’ trust before asking for money for a variety of emotive reasons. Scammers will put a lot of detail into their reasons for why they need you to send money, they will try to panic you to send money quickly.
- Equally, don’t accept any offer of money. A scammer may ask you to accept money from them into your own bank account. You could unwittingly be laundering money.
- Be careful about what you share online. Think twice about posting personal information that could be used to manipulate or bribe you.
- Only use reputable sites when online dating.
- Stay talking on dating apps and websites. Criminals will encourage online daters to communicate via less regulated platforms. They prefer to use text, WhatsApp or email.
- Report suspicious dating or social media profiles as the criminals behind them might not just be conning one person. Your report could help protect others. If you’ve been the victim of a scam please report the crime to Police Scotland.
- If something feels to good to be true, it sometimes can be. Talk to your friends and family and encourage them to follow the same advice.
More information on romance fraud can be found on the Police Scotland website.