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Hampshire Constabulary Backing Romance Fraud Campaign As Residents Swindled Out Of Millions

Hampshire Constabulary is supporting a new campaign launched by the City of London Police to help tackle romance fraud — an act similar to catfishing.

The Romance Fraud Campaign urges family members of online daters to help protect their relatives from becoming a victim, as new figures show Hampshire and Isle of Wight residents lost £3.1million through dating scams between November 2020 and October last year.

More than half of victims were women (56 per cent), while more than a third (34 per cent) were men and one in ten did not specify their gender.

There were a total of 262 reports during the 12-month period.

Residents aged between 50 and 59 were the most at risk of romance fraud, with 54 people in that age bracket losing money to fraudsters.

This was followed by people aged between 60 and 69 and those aged between 30 and 39.

Criminals often use a range of stories to get victims to transfer them money without it raising suspicion.

Examples of stories include funding travel to visit the victim, money to pay for emergency medical expenses, lucrative investment opportunities and pretending to be military personnel or working overseas.

Detective Inspector Andy Symes, of Hampshire Constabulary’s Serious and Organised Crime Unit, said:

“Romance fraud occurs when you think you have met the perfect partner online but they are using a fake profile to form a relationship with you.

“We would like to remind those who are online dating, and their family members, to take appropriate steps to make sure they do not become targets for online criminals.”

How to help protect people you know are online dating:

  • Help friends and family ensure they have adequate privacy settings on social media accounts.
  • Stay in regular contact with your friends and family who are online dating to help spot anything that don’t seem right.
  • Make friends and family aware of signs of romance fraud so they are conscious of the tactics criminals use to carry out these scams.
  • Encourage people to report to Action Fraud and the police if they have become a victim of romance fraud.

If you think you’ve been a victim of romance fraud or a romance-based scam contact your bank immediately and report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or via actionfraud.police.uk.