How does dating fraud work?
You register with an internet-based dating agency or join an online dating chat room. You receive a contact from someone overseas who shows an interest in you. Gradually, you develop a long-distance relationship through emails, instant messaging, texting and phone calls. As the relationship develops, your exchanges become more intimate.
The person you have fallen for will probably send you their photograph and give you a pet name. They may also ask you for naked photos of yourself and/or ask you to perform sexual acts in front of a webcam, particularly if you are female.
The person you have developed a relationship with is not who they say they are. In fact, you have probably been in contact with several members of a criminal gang.
Once the fraudsters are confident that their relationship with you is strong enough - in other words: when they are sure that you have enough sympathy and desire for them - they will tell you about a problem they are experiencing and ask you to help out by sending money. For example:
- They have arranged to visit you but need money to pay travel costs, visa costs etc. Or they have paid for a plane ticket which is then stolen
- A family member or someone else they are responsible for is ill and they need money for medical treatment.
Once you send them money, the fraudsters will keep coming back with more reasons to send them money.
If you send pictures of yourself of a sexual nature, the fraudsters will threaten to send them to your family, friends and work colleagues if you do not go along with their requests for money. Having recorded any sexual acts you might have performed in front of a webcam, the fraudsters will also use them to threaten you.
Eventually, the fraudsters will break off the relationship.
How to recognise a dating fraud
- The new love of your life looks like a supermodel in the pictures they send you
- They ask you lots of questions about yourself but provide little detail about themselves
- They quickly start calling you by a pet name or using terms such as darling
- They quickly want to communicate with you through instant messaging, text etc., rather than through the web site or chat room where you met
- They are not able to answer basic questions about where they live and work.
What you should do
- Break off all contact immediately
- Report the fraudster to the web site or chat room operator
- Do not send any more money.