Police in Harborough have launched a campaign to help people avoid being scammed while dating online, timed to coincide with Valentine's Day.
Leicestershire Police have today (Thursday 14 February), launched an online campaign, warning people against the dangers of dating fraud.
In 2018, residents across the UK were scammed out of over £50 million as a result of dating fraud, in what is a growing issue across the country. In Leicestershire, between July 2017 and April 2018, 45 incidents of romance fraud were reported, with the average loss per person standing at £21,000.
Dating, or romance fraud – as it can often be referred – is described as, the act of someone creating a fake identity in order to enter into a relationship with a victim, with the intended outcome of stealing their money, personal information or both.
Nationwide statistics show that women (63 per cent) are twice as likely as men (37 per cent) to become a victim of romance fraud, with people aged in their 40s or 50s the most susceptible to this type of crime.
In order to represent the array of scams fraudsters use to trick their victims, Leicestershire Police have released two separate video scenarios, based on common themes found in romance fraud - but not specific victim stories. The videos highlight just some of the ways in which criminals dream up elaborate lies, in order to scam thousands of pounds out of innocent victims.
Episode one explains how a woman was deceived by a man claiming to be in the US Army and was conned out of £3,000. The second episode reveals how a recently divorced man was stopped by his bank from taking out a £20,000 loan, he was going to send the money to someone he had met online, who lived in Ghana.
The one thing that both scenarios have in common, is the way in which they demonstrate both the vulnerability of the victim, coupled with the incredibly persuasive and convincing criminals, which consequently makes it so easy to fall for their lies.
Paul Wenlock, Head of the Economic Crime Unit at, Leicestershire Police, said: “It’s really important that we educate people around the dangers of dating fraud, unfortunately, there are some extremely convincing people out there who are happy to prey on the most vulnerable of people and steal their money.
“We hope this campaign not only educates people around some of the tactics displayed by fraudsters, but also makes our audience sit up and think about if this is something that is happening to them right now.
“If the scenario they are watching does seem a little familiar, then we would absolutely encourage them to get in touch with either Action fraud or by calling 101.”
For further information on romance fraud visit the Action Fraud website.