Gardaí issues six warning signs that you could be caught in a Valentine’s Day 'Romance' fraud

Gardaí issues six warning signs that you could be caught in a Valentine’s Day 'Romance' fraud

Gardaí are warning people of a ‘Romance’ fraud in the run-up to St Valentine’s Day.

Last year, 75 cases were reported to Gardaí by both male and female victims who lost more than €1m in total.

The fraud begins on online dating sites or other social media when the fraudsters will provide victims with well-prepared stories to develop online relationships with victims.

Officers say the fraudsters will use fake identities, photographs and life stories and inevitably ask their victims for money.

The fraudster will continue to ask for money until the victim has no more money to give or realise they are being conned.

It can often leave vulnerable people with a feeling of hurt and mistrust as well as a financial loss.

    The warning signs include:

  • The fraudster asking the victim to communicate by instant messaging, text or phone calls rather than messaging through the dating website
  • The fraudster will start asking for money for various reasons, starting with low amounts:

    - to pay for travel to meet the victim

    - to pay moving expenses (ship furniture and pay customs)

    - to pay medical expenses for a sick child or relative

    - to invest in a guaranteed business opportunity

    - to pay a tax bill or other spurious reason

  • No meetings in person take place. The fraudster will present reasons for not meeting, or may arrange to meet and then cancel
  • The fraudster will avoid personal questions, but will ask plenty
  • They will ask for money to be transferred to bank accounts abroad or via money transfer agencies to locations outside of Ireland
  • Phone calls from Irish numbers or lodgements to Irish bank accounts should not be considered as evidence that the person is genuine

In one case an Irish victim developed a relationship with a male on a dating website. He gained her trust and she sent him €62,000 over a period of time.

In another case, a victim linked up with a female in an online chat room and ended up sending her €50,000.

Detective Chief Superintendent Pat Lordan of the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau has advised people to never share personal or banking details with unknown people online, receive money from, or send money to unknown people and to think twice before using a webcam.

DCS Lordan also urged people to trust their instincts, saying "if it sounds like it is too good to be true, it is probably not true".

He finished by asking people to "stop and think. Ask yourself, 'is this person real?'", and if you have any doubts, talk to a friend or family member.

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