The people of Cheshire are being advised to stay safe when dating online as part of a national campaign targeting romance fraud.
Throughout October officers will be raising awareness and providing advice to the public on how to spot the signs to help prevent them from becoming a victim.
Romance fraud, or dating fraud, takes place when you think you’ve met the perfect partner online but they are using a fake profile to form a relationship with you.
They gain your trust over a number of weeks or months and have you believe you are in a loving and caring relationship.
However, the criminal’s end goal is only ever to get your money or personal information.
Detective Sergeant Chris Jacques, from Cheshire Police’s Economic Crime Unit, said: “It is important to understand that people who commit these crimes do so in an incredibly sophisticated way and often target those most vulnerable.
“It affects victims emotionally as well as financially and often leaves them blaming themselves.
“Throughout the month we will be going that extra mile to make people aware of what signs to look out for as well encouraging people who have become a victim to report it to us knowing they will be given support.”
The campaign, being led by the City of London Police, will involve supporting vulnerable people and targeting those who commit these crimes.
The top five platforms where victims reported first interacting with a criminal committing romance fraud were Facebook, Plenty of Fish, Instagram, Tinder and Match.com.
As part of the campaign the Match Group, who own OK Cupid, Plenty of Fish, Tinder and Match.com, are running romance fraud protection adverts throughout October on these platforms, to inform their users how to spot the signs of a romance fraud and how to protect themselves online.
Avoid giving away too many personal details to someone you’ve never met in person – such as your full name, date of birth and home address
Stay on the site’s messaging service until you meet in person
Use the site’s reporting tool if you are suspicious of someone online, which will help protect you and others.
David Keane, Police and Crime Commissioner for Cheshire, said: “These fraudsters will do anything for their own criminal gain and leave a serious financial and emotional impact on those they target.
“Economic crime can have a long-lasting impact on its victims, so it’s important we only provide support for victims of economic crime but also provide advice to stop local residents falling victim to scams.
“I know that the Economic Crime Unit is working hard to make the public aware of these scams while narrowing down on the fraudsters who believe they can get away with it.”
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