Ahead of Valentines Day this year, Gardaí are cautioning people looking to meet someone online to be wary of Romance Scams.
Romance Fraud incidents increased by 86% last year according to Garda figures, with women comprising seven out of ten victims.
Scammers may try to get their victims to send them money using tricks such as needing the cost of travel to see the victim, for emergency medical expenses, or a business opportunity the victim is invited to invest in.
Gardaí say that there is a growing link between romance fraud and investment scams, which ultimately see the funds transferred to the fraudster through a number of linked accounts.
Members of the public are advised to be vigilant as there are huge risks involved in investing in cryptocurrencies and not to share any money with someone they meet through online websites or apps.
Some of the notable incidents of fraud where a 51-year-old female transferred €90,000 to a man she believed she was in a relationship with, ostensibly to invest in his business.
A 65 year old woman reported losing €35,000 to Gardaí as a result scams carried out by a man she met through social media.
Throughout their online relationship she was convinced to purchase stream cards and send the codes directly onto her male friend, subsequently she then transferred money to various accounts in Malaysia.
An Garda Síochána wishes to provide the following information and advice to members of the public:
What are the Signs?
Romance Fraudsters will:
- Try to move communications away from dating websites. They suggest that you move to instant messaging, text or phone calls instead.
- Ask a lot of personal questions.
- Avoid answering personal questions about themselves. The details that they do tell you seem made up or do not reflect reality. For instance, they may say that they are university educated, but their spelling and grammar is poor.
- Try to establish a bond quickly. For example, they may give you an endearing pet name e.g. baby, darling, etc.
- Ask for financial help. They may tell you about money problems in the hope that you will offer to help.
- Ask you to invest in a fraudulent scheme or business.
- Never meet you in person. They will present obstacles and may go as far as making arrangements and cancelling them at the last minute. They may promise to want to see you but offer excuses which delay this, such as financial troubles.
What can you do?
- Use trusted dating websites
- Do not share personal details
- Do not send or receive money
- Think twice before using your webcam
- Trust your instincts