Gardaí are alerting the public about the danger of online relationships this Valentine’s Day – especially if you are asked for money or to invest in a business.
In 2022, 70% of all victims of romance fraud were female and a total of €1,958,089 was stolen, up 23% on the previous year.
Almost of €6,000,000 has been stolen in romance fraud since 2019, and the fraud occurs all year round, not just around Valentine’s Day.
Romance fraudsters may try to get their victims to send them money using the following excuses: To cover the cost of travelling to see the victim, for emergency medical expenses or other bills, and a business opportunity which would see the victim make a quick profit.
There is an ever-increasing link between romance fraud and investment fraud, gardaí say.
In many cases, scammers will ask victims to invest in a fraudulent scheme or business.
Such investments 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 and to get professional and legal advice before investing.
Gardaí work closely with Europol to disrupt the activities of romance scammers, particularly organised crime gangs that engage in this type of criminality; as well as monitoring dating sites for this activity.