Top tips to avoid romance fraud as almost €2m stolen last year with majority of victims women
Seven in 10 victims of romance fraud were female in 2022, with €1,958,089 stolen, up 23 percent from the previous year.
A total of €5,923,869 has been stolen in romance fraud since 2019.
Gardaí are asking members of the public to be vigilant of romance fraud with the approach of Valentine’s Day.
Previous incidents of fraud include a female pensioner who reported that she had lost €100,000 after she met a man on a dating app who claimed to be working abroad and needed the money.
Another incident saw a woman in her late 40s report that she was at the loss of €27,000 as a result of meeting a male through social media. She believed she was in a romantic relationship and sent money to an account as she thought the scammer was moving to Ireland to start a life with her.
The public are advised to be weary of fraudsters asking their victims to send them money using the following excuses:
- To cover the cost of travelling to see the victim
- For emergency medical expenses, customs duties or other bills
- A business opportunity which would see the victim make a quick profit
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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.
Another incident of fraud saw a male in his 40s report that he befriended a female online. He sent €20,000 to the female after he was convinced to deal in cryptocurrency.
Signs of Romance fraudster’s include:
- Trying 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.
- 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
- Do not pay for medical bills, purchase flights, or Visas, pay customs fees or make any payment for them to come to visit you
- Do not invest your money in any ‘opportunities’ from someone you’ve met online
- For further advice or information or if you believe that you are a victim of a romance scam, or think your identity or personal information has been compromised, please contact any Garda Station and report the crime. Be assured that An Garda Síochána will treat all reports in confidence.
- 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.