Don’t Let a Scammer Break Your Heart

Image by Jhonatan_Perez from Pixabay

Writing something for Valentine’s Day, I found myself drawn into the murky – and very lucrative for the heartless – world of romance scams.

There have always been people ready and willing to take advantage of others in the name of love. We are all familiar with the wicked rake of centuries gone by who seduces and moves on, but these days it isn’t one’s virtue that requires guarding so much as one’s purse; and it isn’t the innocent young virgin who is targeted but the older, wealthier folks for whom innocence might be  a memory.

Annoying, as turning up expectantly to a date to find your potential prince is all frog is bad enough, but  the worst dates must be the ones where you get taken for an expensive ride.

Romance scams are an ever present danger. I suppose they always were, but with online dating being the way so many people meet nowadays it’s become so much easier for some predators to get away with it.

According to the City of London Police’s National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) and Get Safe Online, online dating cost some poor souls £27 million last year alone.

Incredibly more than 2,700 online dating-related crimes were reported to Action Fraud over 12 months with the average loss for an individual coming in at  £10,000; and that is most likely to be a huge underestimation, as many people would be too embarrassed to report that they had been had.

Statistics suggest that two-thirds of victims are aged 40 to 69, losing £16 million overall. The most common  age group involved will be between 50 and 59, losing over £6 million between them.

Unsurprisingly 64% of romance scams start with dating sites. Of course if you want to take advantage of vulnerability the best place to hunt is where people are wearing their hearts on their sleeves.

Don’t mistake the notion of vulnerability with stupidity. While some are willing to throw caution to the wind at the smile of a stranger, most are genuinely taken in by very devious, manipulative and heartless scammers; and lets face it , we are all vulnerable in the search for love.

I wouldn’t mention names but I personally know of a number of women who have been caught out by practised criminals. They would be too embarrassed to talk openly but I know that one felt things weren’t right quite early but got swept along. They fortunately took advice before things became too serious, though they  had to involve the police and the whole business was very stressful. Another friend of a friend got fleeced, not once but twice, and admits she still finds it hard to believe what was on offer was not real.

Action Fraud advises that you never send funds to someone, and especially someone you haven’t met. Again, the fraudster is usually accomplished at their craft and very persuasive, so if in doubt, ask a friend you trust. Your heart might be fluttering at the possibility that this is the real thing, but a good friend will not be wearing those rosy-tinted specs and will hopefully want what is best and REAL for you

Action Fraud also says you should report all incidents where you think you have been targeted. The scammers often have a number of victims in play… no, you aren’t even the only one… and multiple reportings might help piece together enough information to put them out of business .

We will be writing more about what to look out for and how best to avoid the romance scammers in further articles and would be delighted to hear your stories . We would be happy to keep your story anonymous.

There is no shame in wanting to love and be loved. It’s a basic need in us all. So, if you are out there searching for ‘the one’ we wish you well and we want you to stay safe.

Kitty Parsons

Kitty has forgotten how long she has been here now but she loves Pembrokeshire for its beauty and it's people. She spends her time searching out stories for, swimming in the sea , drawing and painting as Snorkelfish and eating cake. She says " has been an opportunity to celebrate this beautiful county and its people. Keep the stories coming. We love to hear from you."

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