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What is romance fraud? And what warning signs should I look out for?

Whilst there are lots of heartwarming stories of relationships formed on the internet, there are also a worrying number of stories about ruthless romance fraudsters who create fake profiles in an attempt to win a person’s affections and steal their money. Typically, romance fraud happens when trust is gained and the fraudster asks for money. Often they tell their victim that there has been a crisis e.g. they need money for flights to visit an ill relative, to pay for urgent treatment, to release them from being held hostage etc.

Fraudsters will use clever psychological tricks to gain the confidence and affections of legitimate site users including;

Being very attentive - ensuring there is regular, often daily contact via the internet.
When the trust has been gained they begin to ask for money.
They may tell their victim that there has been a crisis; typically this is abroad and that they need money for flights to visit an ill relative, or to pay for their urgent treatment.
They may say that they are being held hostage and need to meet the demands of their captors.
In some cases they entice their victims with financial rewards, e.g. a small investment is guaranteed to double their return.
Money is often requested to be transferred via a money gram service rather than through a personal account to disguise the identity of the receiver.

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