SINGLETONS are being warned of online fraudsters after at least £2.8million was scammed from West Midlands residents in just 12 months.
West Midlands Police has issued the warning after 328 people reported being a victim of romance fraud throughout 2022.
The force said: “Con-artists will use fake profiles and stories to dupe their ‘love interest’ into transferring large sums of money after building up trust and an emotional attachment over a period of time.
“Their lies can often include seeking funds for emergency medical expenses or being military personnel or working overseas and needing thousands of pounds to cover transport costs to visit their victim.
“These criminals are manipulative and use emotive words to cruelly exploit their targets and trick them into thinking they’re in a genuine relationship.
“They are after your money, not your love.”
Anyone who thinks they have been a victim of fraud should contact their bank immediately and report it to Action Fraud online at actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040.
Advice to stay safe from romance scams includes:
• Be suspicious of any requests for money from someone you have never met in person, particularly if you have only recently met online.
• Keep all communication on the dating website or app you are using.
• Don’t be convinced by profile pictures, they may have been taken from somewhere else on the internet. You can check photos using a reverse image search on the internet.
• Do your own research on the person – are they members of any other social networking sites? Can you confirm what they are telling you about themselves, such as where they work or where they live?
• Speak to your family or friends to get advice, even if the other party is asking you to keep the relationship secret.
If you have not met them in person it’s important that you do not:
• Send them any money
• Allow them access to your bank account
• Transfer money on their behalf
• Take a loan out for them
• Provide copies of your personal documents such as passports or driving licenses
• Invest your own money on their behalf or on their advice
• Purchase and send the codes on gift cards
• Agree to receive and/or send parcels on their behalf (laptops, mobile phones etc.)