A new initiative between Humberside Police and Victim Support Humberside (a service funded by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Humberside) has been launched to help support victims of romance fraud.
During 2020 we had 73 reports of online romance fraud, with victims in our area losing over £1million*.
Romance fraud, or dating fraud, occurs when people think they have met the perfect partner online but their “date” is using a fake profile to form a relationship. They gain the victims trust over weeks and months but the scammers end goal is to get the victims money or personal information.
According to a recent YouGov** survey the number of people spending more time on dating apps has increased by 8% in Yorkshire and the Humber since the start of the pandemic and many popular dating apps have seen a surge in downloads.
Detective Sergeant Ben Robinson, said: “In the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic has made it genuinely harder to meet people in person.
“Loneliness has been a widely reported side effect of the pandemic and many people have taken to online dating for companionship. Unfortunately, we’ve seen that this has led to an increase in reports of romance scams and people losing money.
“Romance fraud is one of the most devastating for our victims to deal with because they have suffered losses both financially and emotionally.
“These scams can be extremely sophisticated and victims should not feel ashamed or embarrassed and shouldn’t blame themselves in any way.
“It’s important that victims know there is help available to them and we would encourage them to seek support. In Humberside we’ve recently worked with Victim Support, to set up a peer support group for victims of romance fraud and it is only the second such group to be set up in the country. It’s something we’re really proud of and anyone can access support through this group. The group is run jointly by Humberside Police and Humberside Victim Support and provides a safe space for people to talk to each other and access support.”
Julie Butcher, Operations Manager for Humberside Victim Support commented that “Many victims tell us that they feel they should have seen what was happening. Many are also unsure that it was fraud, even after reporting or ending the relationship. Supporting each other is a good way to understand what has happened and move forward. We feel that facilitating these support groups alongside our police colleagues is a good way for people to access help and would encourage anyone to contact us to find out more.”
Many online dating platforms have a reporting tool which people can use if they suspect someone is a scammer. Reporting their profile means it can be blocked, which also helps to protect others.
If you think you have been a victim of romance fraud, please report it to Action Fraud.
How to protect yourself against this type of scam:
Spot the signs that something isn’t what it should be…
Date safe tips on how to avoid a #fauxmance:
What to do if you’re the victim of this type of fraud:
**YouGov Survey 2nd – 28th April 2020