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Jane*, a middle-aged woman from Warwickshire, had a lucky escape a few years ago when she very nearly handed over a sizeable sum of money to an online scammer who did in fact claim to be an engineer.
Her interest was initially piqued when he seemed to have a similar background and heritage to her and they chatted for almost two months, often exchanging messages for at least two hours an evening.
So what can you do to avoid being a victim of an online dating scam?
Jane advises meeting up with someone sooner rather than later - more often than not, scammers are based abroad and won’t be able to meet you.
“A lot of the online dating fraudsters we know are abroad.
They're in West Africa, Eastern Europe and it's very difficult for British law enforcement to take action against them in those jurisdictions,” Steve Profitt, Deputy Head of Action Fraud explains.
By analysing the top 3,000 scammer profiles (that is, those they’ve come across most frequently in profiles blocked by their software in the last year) they’ve discovered what constitutes the ‘most attractive’ female and male propositions to those targeted by romance scammers.
Serious fraudsters sometimes even create further fake profiles and use them to be rude to you, all to make the main fake profile seem more desirable.There was only one thing that seemed a little odd to Jane: his syntax occasionally seemed a little unnatural for a native English-speaker, and when they spoke on the phone, something about his voice didn’t seem to match his pictures.Jane Googled him and found what looked like an authentic Linked In page and social media profiles as well as information on the projects he claimed to be working on, which seemed legitimate.A new report by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau has found that last year, singles were conned out of £39 million by fraudsters they’d met on dating sites and apps.Con artists are increasingly creating fake online profiles and tricking people on dating sites into handing over often large sums of money.
Watch out for inconsistencies and repetition too - if you’re talking to a team of scammers, they’re bound to forget what’s previously been said and slip-up occasionally.