Six arrests after operation to tackle romance fraud
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Six men have been arrested after an organised operation to tackle a series of romance fraud scams which saw 14 victims conned out of over £400,000.
Officers arrested the six men yesterday morning on suspicion of fraud by false representation and money laundering. The large-scale operation saw addresses searched and evidence seized across Hampshire, Surrey and London.
The men have been released under investigation while enquiries continue.
Romance fraud, or dating fraud, occurs 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 convince you that 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 Inspector Anna Martin said: “Romance fraud is a particularly calculated and cruel crime which has a devastating impact on its victims. I hope this sends a message to anyone involved in this crime that we will work hard to investigate these reports and bring offenders to justice.”
“Our priority is to identify and protect victims, which is why we have dedicated fraud victim caseworkers who work hard to support and care for victims of fraud.
“If you believe you have been a victim of romance fraud, we encourage you to report it to us straightaway. Often victims feel too embarrassed to talk about it, but we would urge you to talk to us so that we can investigate and give you the support you might need.”
Here’s how to spot the signs of romance fraud and keep your money safe:
- Be wary of giving out any personal information to someone you don't know. This could be your address, even if it seems to be for a harmless reason such as sending you a gift or flowers
- Never agree to keep your online relationship a secret
- It's a big red flag if someone keeps making excuses not to video chat or meet in person.
- Get to know the person and not the profile
- Never send money or share your bank details on the platform, even if you're told a story which pulls at your heartstrings and seems like a genuine emergency
- Stay on the dating messenger service until confident the person is who they say they are
- Run a search on the internet for their name or any picture they have sent along with the term ‘scam’.
No matter how long you’ve been speaking to someone online and how much you trust them, if you haven’t met them in person do not:
- Send them any money
- Allow them access to your bank account
- Transfer money on their behalf
- Take a loan out for them
- Provide copies of your personal documents such as passports or driving licenses
- Invest your own money on their behalf or on their advice
- Purchase and send the codes on gift cards from Amazon or iTunes
- Agree to receive and/or send parcels on their behalf (laptops, mobile phones etc.)
If you’d like to report a case of fraud, you can do so via our website or by calling 101. Always call 999 in an emergency.