Romance scams or fraud, also known as catfishing, happens when victims are deceived
into “false” “relationships” by fraudsters who aim to steal their money or personal information.
Romance fraud is typically carried out by criminals using fake profiles. Someone
believes they have met their perfect match through an online dating site or app but
the other person is in fact a scammer using the fake profile to build the relationship.
They slowly gain the victims trust with a view to eventually asking for money or obtaining
enough personal details to steal the victim’s identity.
PC Kev Marron from Police Scotland’s North East Division Crime Reduction Unit says:
“Scammers can be experienced in telling stories to lure in their victims.
People should be aware if the person quickly wants to move communications away
from dating websites. They may suggest moving to instant messaging, text or phone
calls instead and if they ask a lot personal questions while avoiding answering
personal questions about themselves. Often what they do say simply contradicts
other aspects of the communication. What I mean by that is that they perhaps say
that they’re university educated, but their spelling and grammar is poor.”
Constable Marron went on to say:
“They will play on people’s emotions and will try to establish a bond quickly and
may give the victim an endearing pet name, ask for financial help or hint about money
problems in the hope that you’ll offer to help. They will make excuses, often for
financial reasons, why they cannot meet up with the victim in person.”
Constable Marron advises:
“Use only trusted dating websites and only communicate through the website.
I would advise people to be suspicious if the person is encouraging them to move to
private means of communication. Do not share private personal details like your full
name or date of birth and be very suspicious if these are asked for and never send or
receive money. Yes, sometimes they will send you money in a bid to gain your trust or
for money laundering purposes – the latter of which could get you into serious trouble
with the authorities.”
PC Marron concluded:
“Be very careful using a web cam as you can never be sure who you are speaking to,
what they will do with the images or footage that you have sent or who they will send it on to.”
If you’ve fallen victim, don’t be afraid to talk about it. You can report romance
scams to Action Fraud or call 0300 123 2040 or telephone Police Scotland on 101,
their non-emergency number, or visit your local police office.
Original Message Sent By
Action Fraud (Action Fraud, Administrator, National)