Detective Inspector Ben Robinson from the Humberside Police Economic Crime Unit said;
“Online dating apps are a dominant feature in our culture.
“With this increased popularity comes the opportunity for criminals to target people and commit fraud and other crimes such as identify theft and fraud.
“We have seen a rise in reports where these channels are being abused in order to commit crime and would always encourage people to report any incidents so we can investigate them fully.
“If you use apps or social media to meet people – remember to consider that they may not be all they make out online. Consider that the person you are talking to is a total stranger and you need to make sure you look after yourself.
“Could you be talking to a “Catfish”?
Inspector Ben Robinson also advises that between over the course of 2020 and 2021 154 people have reported that they have been the victim of romance fraud in Humberside losing at total of £1 million pounds.
“If you get into a relationship with someone through a dating site or any other website you need to be aware that the person they claim to be may not be true.
“We have seen a recurring theme within the reports of romance fraud where the criminal claims to work abroad and then something will take place that prevents them from coming to the UK and this requires money being sent. An example of this being they have had an accident and they are in hospital requiring treatment which they need to pay for.
“There are some basic steps that you can take to establish if the person is who they say they are:
“Don’t send any money to anyone that you have never met in person. If you have met them be extremely careful about sending money as you cannot verify what they are going to spend your money on. If the money leaves the UK it is gone and it is very unlikely that you will ever get it back.
“Try and verify details they provide you with about themselves and their life. Would you ask someone you are in a new relationship with to send you thousands of pounds? If the answer is no then why are they asking you to send money?
“Get them to send you a photo of them doing something you ask them to do. That way you can establish if they are the same person as the profile picture. Do not let them fob you off. If they won’t do this then ask questions why.
“If they are asking for money so they can ship goods to you this is more than likely a scam and there are no goods to come to you. They will ask for more and more money which may well include threats from the shipping company claiming that you owe them money for the goods. Don’t send any money and report any of this type of behaviour to the police.
“If things sound too good to be true then they probably are.
“If you know someone who has recently started a relationship with someone online make sure that they don’t become a victim of fraud. Share our advice with them and encourage them to report this person to the police if they have any suspicions.”
*media note- for operational reasons, unfortunately Humberside Police are unable to offer up any media interviews*