What it is?

When you think you’ve met the perfect partner through an online dating website or app, but the other person is using a fake profile to form a relationship with you. They’re using the site to gain your trust and ask you for money or enough personal information to steal your identity.

The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau states that there were 3889 victims last year. The victims lost over £39 million.

Spot the signs

You’ve struck up a relationship with someone online; they’re asking a lot of personal questions about you, but they’re not interested in telling you much about themselves.

They invent a reason to ask for your help, using the emotional attachment you’ve built with them. Your relationship with them may often depend on you sending money.

Their pictures are too perfect – they may have been stolen from an actor or model. Reverse image search can find photos that have been taken from somewhere else.

Be aware and stay safe

Be cautious when posting any of your personal information online. Fraudsters are very manipulative. They trawl through your online dating profiles and social media accounts. Never send money to someone you have met online and who you have never met, no matter how sorry the sob story.

Make sure you pick a reputable dating website and use the site’s messaging service. Fraudsters want to quickly switch to social media or texting so there’s no evidence of them asking you for money.

How to report it

It can be embarrassing to feel tricked into thinking you’ve formed a relationship online, but if you tell us we can take a report in confidence. Report to Action Fraud online or call 0300 123 2040.

Published: 13th February 2017