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Met supports UK’s first dating fraud partnership

News   •   Feb 12, 2017 06:00 GMT

The Metropolitan Police Service, along with other partners from law enforcement, technology and charity sectors is coming together to form the UK’s first partnership to tackle the increasing problem of dating fraud.

Victim Support (VS) and Age UK along with the Met’s Fraud and Linked Crime Online (FALCON) Unit, City of London Police and Get Safe Online will, in a first for the UK, all work in partnership with the Online Dating Association to better understand how fraudsters operate and how they can most effectively share safety messages to users of online dating sites and apps with the aim of reducing the number of people falling victim to fraud.

The partnership will bring together leaders from the different sectors to share their expertise on the issue, and work together collaboratively for the first time. The partners will also be widely publicising five #datesafe tips across their websites and social media platforms for users of dating sites and apps to follow in order to avoid becoming a victim of dating fraud. 

According to the latest national figures from City of London Police, one victim reports dating fraud every three hours.

- On average fraudsters ask their victims to transfer money within one month of first contact.

- Almost half (45 per cent) of victims indicated that dating fraud had a ‘significant’ impact on their health or financial wellbeing.

- The average amount lost by a dating fraud victim in the UK is £10,000.

#datesafe tips that are being released by the partnership include:

- Get to know the person, not the profile and ask plenty of questions - don’t rush into an online relationship.

- Check the person is genuine by putting their name, profile pictures or any repeatedly used phrases and the term ‘dating scam’ into your search engine.

- Talk to your friends and family about your dating choices. Be wary of anyone who tells you not to tell others about them.

- Never send money to someone you’ve met online, no matter what reason they give or how long you've been speaking to them.

- Don’t move the conversation off the dating site messenger until you’re confident the person is who they say they are.

Detective Inspector Gary Miles, from the Met’s Falcon Unit, said: "The people who perpetrate this type of offence are ruthless, organised, committed and without conscience to the pain, embarrassment and financial loss they cause to their victims. Their methodology is sophisticated. 

“This campaign is the beginning of a collaboration designed to prevent these type of offences from occurring, by raising awareness among the public and by identifying and targeting the key techniques that the suspects use. Please use the dating tips as it will help you to avoid becoming victim to these despicable criminals."

Andrew McClelland, CEO of the Online Dating Association, said: "People spend much of their lives online, communicating and meeting new people via dating services or social networks. Fraudsters will normally try to move you away from the service as soon as they can, so we encourage users to continue communicating via the dating service which helps dating providers to detect fraudulent behaviour. 

"Millions of people have found their partners through online dating but if you think you suspect fraudulent behaviour, please always report it to the dating provider as well as the Police; that way we can make it even safer for all users."

Anyone who is a victim of dating fraud should report to Action Fraud via the website: www.actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040.