Romeo(s) are at Large tonight, Beware all Lonely Women and Men Covid-19 has imposed its Rules! Romance is but a memory or a dream but tonight and tomorrow it is virtual or for those in their bubbles already. However this leaves people more vulnerable to “romance frauds”

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Gardaí warn public over ‘romance fraud’ after almost 200 cases reported last year

Press Association  11 hrs ago

Gardaí warn public over ‘romance fraud’ after almost 200 cases reported last year

GARDAÍ HAVE WARNED the public to be wary of ‘romance fraud’ which costs the average victim more than €2,000.

Almost 200 cases were reported to gardaí in 2020, and they have called on the public to be vigilant ahead of Valentine’s Day tomorrow.

They say the reduced number of social gatherings due to Covid-19 restrictions has resulted in more opportunities for fraudsters to target lonely hearts online.

Online dating apps and social media are the primary tools used by the criminals, who typically come with well-prepared stories designed to deceive.

Both men and women have fallen victim and they come from all age groups.

Fraudsters use fake identities, photographs and life stories to develop online relationships with their victims.

Gardaí say that inevitably, the fraudster will ask the person for money. This will continue until the victim realises they are being deceived, or has no more money to give.

Such crimes often leave vulnerable people with a feeling of hurt and mistrust in addition to their financial loss.

Gardaí say that in some recent cases they have seen criminals targeting people with learning difficulties.

Reasons for borrowing money can include paying for travel to meet their victim, paying for medical expenses, investing in business opportunities or paying tax bills.

Typically, no meetings will ever take place, with the fraudster finding excuses, or arranging to meet and then cancelling.

They will ask for money to be transferred to bank accounts abroad or via money transfer agencies to locations outside of Ireland.

Gardaí have also warned that phone calls from Irish numbers or lodgements to Irish bank accounts should not be considered as evidence that the person is genuine.

In one recent case an Irish victim developed a relationship with a woman from the United States on a dating website.

Over a period of months, for spurious reasons, she asked him for money and the victim lost more than 21,000 euro over five separate transactions.

Detective Chief Superintendent Pat Lordan of the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau urged the public to be careful.

“If you are asked for money by a person with whom you are in an online relationship, stop and think. Ask yourself, is this person real?” he warned.

He said the public should never share personal or banking details with unknown persons online.

He also warned people to think twice about using webcams because intimate images can sometimes be used for blackmail.

Superintendent Lordan said people should trust their instincts.

“If it sounds like it is too good to be true, it is probably not true,” he said.

And if there is any doubt, talk to a family member or friend.

“If you have been the victim of this type of crime, please report it in confidence to your local Garda station.

“If you are a guardian or friend to someone with intellectual difficulties, be alert to the dangers of romance fraud.” 

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