Information about romance fraud and how you can avoid being caught out.
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Romance fraud is common. However, only one in five instances of fraud are reported.
Firstly, the offender builds trust with the victim. In romance fraud, the victim believes there to be a real relationship.
There are many techniques used to gain trust. The offender may claim to have the same religious faith or spiritual beliefs. They may also show a desire for the victim.
The romance scam tends to follow the pattern below:
- The victim wants to find an ideal partner
- The victim then comes across the ideal profile
- The grooming process
- The sting (crisis) where the scammer needs money
- The scam carries on
- Potential sexual abuse
Foot-in-the door technique. The perpetrator asks for a small sum. They then come up a new crisis which need larger sums of money.
Face-in-the-door technique. They will ask for a sum of money so extreme that most would refuse. This is followed by a request for a far more modest sum(s). The victim then gives them the money.
Third is webcam blackmail.
The tactics used by scammers can include:
- Economic abuse
- Creation of fear
- Isolation (move to messenger app, tell no one)
- Monopolisation (bombard victim with messages, calls, monitoring of social media, sleep deprivation They're only available at night)
- Degradation (abuse the victim to wear them down, get money, Jekyll and Hyde, victim seeks to placate)
- Psychological destabilisation (pretending money has not been sent)
- Emotional or interpersonal withdrawal (refusing to communicate till demands are met)
- Guilt tripping.
Here are some tips to not be caught out:
- Be guarded and aware, giving out too much information will make you vulnerable.
- If you've been the victim of a scam please report the crime to the police, you will be taken seriously and dealt with in confidence
- If someone threatens you to share money with them, do not pay
- Cut off all contact with the blackmailer.
- Keep all evidence of the communications you have had, this needed to help us tackle it
- Never send money or your bank details to someone you’ve met online regardless of how convincing a reason they've given
- Banks do their best to track and recover your payment. However, they aren't responsible if the request is fraudulent. If they turn out to be a criminal, it’s highly unlikely you'll get your money back.
- 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
- It's best to use a credit, debit or official payment platform (such as PayPal) to make any online payments. You have some protection if it is a scam. Paying by transfer doesn’t offer any protection if things go wrong
- Only use reputable sites when online dating
If someone asks you for money, report it immediately to the dating platform you are using. You can call the Police on 101.