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West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Foster has issued advice to people who might be looking at online dating this Valentine’s Day: don’t fall foul of romance scammers.

With today being the day of love, it is a concern that more people will turn to online dating platforms to find a partner.

Every year, hundreds of people in the West Midlands fall victim to romance fraud – and the PCC is encouraging people to think carefully and take advice, when chatting to someone you have never met.

Romance Fraud occurs when criminals feign romantic intentions towards their intended victim and use the nature of their relationship to fraudulently obtain money or sensitive information. This can be a devastating crime for the people involved – with significant amounts of money being extracted from the victim.

Police and Crime Commissioner, Simon Foster said: “February is a time of year when more people are looking online for a possible match – but I would advise people to be very careful when sharing any personal information.

“Fraudsters can be experienced in spinning stories to lure victims in – they can ‘love bomb’ someone, by showering them with compliments and promises, only to then come up with a cover story for why they need money sending. 

“I would urge everyone to read the advice below, before taking any relationship to the next level.”

What are the signs?

  • Scammers may prefer to move communications away from dating websites. They may suggest that you move to instant messaging, text or phone calls instead.
  • They ask a lot personal questions.
  • They avoid answering personal questions about themselves. The details that they do tell you seem made up or don’t reflect reality.
  • They try to establish a bond quickly, telling you ‘they’ve never felt like this before’.
  • They ask for financial help. They may also tell you about money problems frequently in the hope that you’ll offer to help.
  • You never meet them in person. They may promise to see you, but either cancel every time or offer excuses which delay meeting up, like financial troubles.

How to protect yourself from being a victim

  • Don’t share personal details
  • Don’t send or receive money
  • Only use trusted dating websites
  • Don’t share personal contact details
  • Think twice before using your webcam
  • Trust your instincts
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