Valentine’s Day means spike in romance and dating frauds

St Valentine’s Day is upon us and, as you would expect, romance and dating frauds spike around this time of year.

Strangely enough, however, they do not peak until the summer months, June and August being those in which most crimes of this kind were reported last year.

Statistics produced by Scamwatch for 2018 show romance and dating frauds last year ranked second only to investment fraud in terms of amounts lost.

And it is not the younger generation which is most affected – almost two thirds of all victims are aged between 40 to 69, with people aged between 50 to 59 being the most likely victims accounting for a quarter of all frauds. Yet, of all the categories of crime listed, it is the one least reported.

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In terms of gender affected and amounts lost, women were more frequently the victims than men and transgender people (the approximate ratio being 56:42:2), and the frauds were most often carried out via social media (34.1 per cent), the internet (20.6 per cent), email (18.9 per cent) and mobile applications (13.9 per cent). However, some fraudsters have also been known to make initial contact by telephoning their victims.

They are patient and persistent, and will go to great lengths to gain your interest and trust, such as showering you with loving words, sharing ‘personal information’ and even sending you gifts.

If you came into contact via a dating website, they will suggest moving the relationship away from the website to a more private channel, such as phone, email or instant messaging.

You might be asked to accept money into your bank account and then transfer it to someone else, or be sent valuable equipment to be forwarded elsewhere. If you do this, you run the risk of being charged with money laundering.

Remember – if you have been defrauded, never be ashamed to report it, because otherwise you will only be helping the scammers and that is what they want.

• Tim Drew is the secretary and press officer for the Worthing Neighbourhood Watch Association. For more information about the Worthing & Adur Neighbourhood Watch Associations click here.

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