Romance fraud victims scammed out of up to €50,000

ireland
Romance Fraud Victims Scammed Out Of Up To €50,000 Romance Fraud Victims Scammed Out Of Up To €50,000
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Victims of romance fraud were scammed out of €18,000 on average in 2020, with the figure reaching as high as €50,000 in some cases according to research conducted by FraudSMART.

The awareness initiative led by Banking and Payments Federations Ireland (BPFI) found the number of romance scams had increased during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Romance scams involve the fraudsters gaining the trust of their victim by forming a romantic connection, before asking for money from the victim or by gaining access to their finances.

Head of digital and fraud prevention with the BPFI, Niamh Davenport said the move to virtual dating has led to the increase in romance scams over the past year.

"The onset of Covid-19 has seen many elements of our lives, including socialising, move online.

"With an increase in online dating fraudsters are not only taking advantage of the rising number of people online, but they are also preying on people’s loneliness, isolation and vulnerability as a result of the restrictions and lockdowns we are experiencing," she said.

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Ms Davenport added people need to be aware of these scams and how they work in order to know how to protect themselves and their money.

"By using online dating sites or apps the fraudsters objective is to gain trust and build up a relationship and emotional connection with their victim.

"They will often devote months to this process, after which time they will create a sense of urgency in order to ask their victim for money or indeed in many cases have the victim offer them money."

She said the results can be both emotionally and financially devastating for people targetted by these scams, adding victims are often too embarrassed to report the crime.

"While knowing how to protect yourself from these type of scams is critically important, is it just important to dispel any shame victims of such scams may feel," Ms Davenport said.

"If you think you have fallen victim to such a crime contact your bank and An Garda Síochána immediately, the quicker you act the better your chance of recouping any lost funds."

In the approach to Valentine's Day, FraudSMART have published advice on their website on how people can protect themselves against romance scams.

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