“Don’t let your heart rule your head” says campaign to stop online romance fraud

    North Yorkshire Police is today joining forces and partners across the country in a campaign to raise awareness of romance fraud and help protect individuals from falling victims to these skilled scammers.

    Action Fraud has seen a 26 percent rise in reports of romance fraud over the last year and North Yorkshire Police has seen a significant increase in the summer months of 2020. Nearly 70 instances of romance fraud have been reported in North Yorkshire between August 2019 and August 2020, with victims losing more than £426,000 in total.

    North Yorkshire Police Financial Abuse Safeguarding Officer, Andy Fox, explains: “Romance fraud is where someone creates a fake online profile and after gaining the trust of an individual, uses their relationship to request sums of money. Fake profiles will often feature photos taken from other people online and may pose as a US army officer or businessman based overseas. Monetary sums will be requested to pay for urgent medical care or even plane tickets to visit the UK, usually alongside a story designed to elicit sympathy and on the promise of it being repaid.

    “These fake profiles will typically be on dating websites and apps but we are now seeing a number of incidents where victims have been targeted on gaming applications which allow players to communicate with each other. Although the requests for money start small, they quickly escalate and many victims have lost hundreds of thousands of pounds to these fraudsters.

    “The individuals who undertake romance fraud are highly skilled in both earning trust and cultivating what feels like a loving relationship so the impact on victims can be huge – financially and emotionally. We’re urging anyone using online dating to be vigilant to the signs and also to look out for friends and family, helping safeguard them from becoming victims.

    “There can be a perception that the people who fall victim to romance fraudsters are of a certain age or gender but the reports we receive show that literally anyone can be taken in by these calculating criminals. We’ve seen both men and women targeted with some as young as teenagers right up to those in their eighties.”

    If you’ve met someone online, ask yourself the following questions:

    • Have you ever seen them? Fraudsters will usually take photos from other people online to use in their profiles and will likely never take part in a video chat or meet in person. Google reverse image search can help you spot if a photo on a profile is genuine or not.
    • Have you ever spoken to them? As these individuals are posing as someone else, they will rarely engage in a phone or web-based voice call.
    • Have they ever asked you for money? The amounts may start small but will usually increase once they have your trust. A fraudster may say they are going to visit and ask you to pay for their air fare but then their flight gets cancelled or their passport is stolen.
    • Is there anything about your interactions with the individual which just doesn’t feel right? Trust your instincts and be vigilant for any signs which make you feel worried or uneasy.

    Andy explains what you should do if you think you have been a victim of romance fraud:

    “Cease all contact with the individual immediately and report them to the police or Action Fraud. We know that romance fraud is underreported for a number of reasons but one can be that victims feel embarrassed they have been taken in by these fraudsters. There is absolutely no reason to feel embarrassed and the police are here to support you.

    “Not only can we give you advice and guidance to ensure you don’t become a victim again, all of these reports help us to build a profile of how romance fraud is undertaken so we can try to stop it happening to others in future.

    National campaign

    Police forces across the country are working together with partners, including Match Group, to tackle romance fraud, with a combination of awareness raising and enforcement activity, co-ordinated by the City of London Police (CoLP).

    The multi-agency campaign, running throughout October, aims to raise awareness of romance fraud and provide clear and unambiguous protection advice to the public, following a 26 percent rise in reports to Action Fraud in the last year.

    More from Dales News

    On Air

    • Julian at Breakfast

      The best way to start your day in the Dales with News, Weather and Sport and Dales Music Mix.

    • Lee Moulsdale

      Weekday Mornings with the Classic Top 3 and No 1's @1

    • Keith Fletcher

      The Dales Drive Home with the very best music and conversation.

    • Rob Stevens

      The Dales Evening Show with great music and a finger on the pulse of the Dales

    • StressBusters

      Ease the troubles of the day away with late night easy listening,

    • Nic Foster

      Saturday Morning brought to life with Great Music, Loads of info on events in the Dales, Local stories from the week and the weekend edition of The Time Machine.

    • Nick Babb - Stuck In The 80s

      Two hours packed with the biggest songs from the 1980s.

    • Stuart Clarkson

      A comprehensive guide to what’s happening at the weekend, a look at the weekend's sporting action, the latest news and great tunes for your Saturday afternoon.

    Dales Weather

    • Skipton

      Light rain

      High: 11°C | Low: 6°C

    • Settle

      Light rain

      High: 10°C | Low: 6°C

    • Leyburn

      Light rain

      High: 12°C | Low: 6°C

    • Sedbergh

      Light rain

      High: 10°C | Low: 6°C

    • Kirkby Stephen

      Light rain

      High: 10°C | Low: 6°C

    Recently Played

    Dales Diary

    • Pumpkin Trail

      From 24th October to 1st November it's the Seasons Bakery Pumpkin Trail in Ingleton. Dress up and celebrate the new normal way of Halloween. Follow the map around Ingleton and find the pumpkins with letters on. Create a word and discover your Trick or Treat. The cost is £2 per person with the maximum number in any group to be no more than 6 to follow the current government guidelines. All proceeds for this event are going towards St. Mary’s Church and the Pop-Up Pantry.

      at Seasons Bakery
    • Medieval Music in the Dales

      Medieval Music in the Dales at Bolton Castle, Leyburn is the UK's only festival of medieval music and it’s online anytime this year, due to the pandemic. The festival features performances from dozens of musicians - some live online, others pre-recorded exclusively to premier at Medieval Music in the Dales. On top of that, you can enjoy a virtual tour of the amazing venue - Bolton Castle - and join in on vocal and instrumental workshops.

      at Online
    • Cave Exploring

      If you are on a staycation in the beautiful Yorkshire Dales National Park then you are in the most extensive caving area in the UK. So if you’re looking for something to do or if you live in the Dales and you fancy exploring the marvellous caves, which includes the longest cave system, one of the largest caverns, and the highest unbroken underground waterfall at Gaping Gill then head online to yorkshiredales.org.uk for more info.

      at Yorkshire Dales