Across Kent victims of romance fraud reported losses of £1.8 million between August 2019 and August 2020.
Over 180 romance fraud, or dating fraud, crimes were reported to Action Fraud in the same period with just over half of the victims being female.
However, the actual number of crimes is thought to be considerably higher, with victims often feeling too embarrassed to come forward.
Romance fraud often occurs when a victim thinks they have met the perfect partner online. They gain a person’s trust over several weeks or months and have the victim believe they are in a loving, caring relationship. They will then request money or personal information and take advantage of a victim’s good nature and emotions.
Officers from Kent Police want to prevent any further heartache and are urging people to protect themselves online.
Detective Sergeant Marc Cananur from Kent Police’s Serious Economic Crime Unit said:
‘This type of crime is devastating for victims who are looking for love but just end up being exploited. These criminals use every method they can to get victims to part with their money or personal details.
‘I would urge anyone who thinks they are being targeted or has been a victim of dating fraud to report it immediately. This information helps us to identify and track down theses heartless criminals and bring them to justice.’
Spot the signs
• They want to communicate with you through instant messaging and texts, rather than through the dating website or chat room where you met.
• They ask you lots of questions about yourself, but don’t tell you much about themselves.
• They don’t answer basic questions about where they live and work.
• Don’t be convinced by proﬁle pictures as they may have been taken from somewhere else on the internet.
Fraudsters will use different scenarios, such as:
• Claiming to be military personnel based overseas who require funds for flights home or early discharge from the forces.
• Requiring money to pay for medical-related issues such as emergency surgery for themselves or a family member.
• They have arranged to visit you but need money to pay travel costs.