‘Romance fraud’ warnings as Valentine’s Day approaches

People looking for love in Sussex were scammed out of more than £3 million last year.

With Valentine’s Day approaching, people in Sussex looking for love are reminded to be aware of scammers.

Use of online dating websites and apps has grown during lockdown, which has also seen and increase in people falling victim to romance fraud.

Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne revealed that there were 256 reports of romance fraud in 2020, a 63% increase on the previous year.

More than £3 million in total was lost to fraudsters preying on people looking for companionship, the average loss per person was nearly £13,000.

Many people believed they had met their perfect partner online, who turned out to be a fraudster with a fake profile building a relationship with them.

Lisa Mills, Senior Fraud Manager at Victim Support said: “Romance fraud is a despicable crime which has wide ranging emotional, psychological and financial impacts on victims. The fraudsters are very skilled in their use of language and use a variety of other manipulative techniques in order to intensify the romantic feelings of their victims towards them. This is with the clear aim of financially exploiting them, with no thought or care for the devastating consequences of such actions, on their victim’s emotional and financial wellbeing.”

Tips to protect yourself from Action Fraud include:

  • Not trusting people too quickly and putting yourself and your identity in jeopardy
  • Never send money to people you’ve not met
  • Keep all communication via the dating site or app you’re using – avoid using personal email addresses
  • Be wary of people who don’t answer basic questions about where they live and work, and want to communicate through texts and other instant messaging – rather than through the dating website or app
  • Report it immediately if you believe you’ve been a victim.

Don’t hesitate to report if you’ve fallen victim to this type of crime.

Sussex Police take all fraud incredibly seriously, they are vigilant to fraudsters and will proactively seek to bring offenders to justice.