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West Midlands Victims’ Commissioner Nicky Brennan has issued a stark warning to those who may be looking at online dating this Valentine’s Day: don’t fall foul of romance scammers.

With February 14th on the horizon, it is feared that more people will be turning to online dating platforms to find love.

But in 2021 alone there were 359 reports of romance fraud reported to West Midlands Police – with online scammers proving to be a major cause.

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 those involved with huge amounts of money being extracted from the victims.

Victims’ Commissioner Nicky Brennan said: “I have heard countless stories from people across the West Midlands who have been approached by scammers while looking for love.

“February is a time of year when more people are looking online for a possible match – but I would warn people to be very careful when disclosing information.

“Fraudsters can be experienced in spinning stories to lure victims in – so I would urge everyone to read 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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