Thursday 19 August 2021 6:27 pm

Criminals troll dating websites to scam would-be lovers with bogus offers

Cyber criminals offering bogus investment opportunities on dating platforms this year has led to losses of more than £15m, according to new data shared with City A.M. this evening.

While the vast majority of investments offered are in cryptocurrency, victims have also handed over money believing they are investing in other commodities, including stocks and shares, gold and raw materials, Action Fraud said.

Nearly a quarter (23 per cent) of victims were in their 30s, and three-fifths (60 per cent) were aged 30 to 59.

The average loss per victim is £15,936, with a total of £15,665,332 lost so far this year, the UK’s reporting centre for fraud and cyber crime – Action Fraud – said today.

“We’ve all spent more time than ever before online over the past year and criminals have seen this as an opportunity to target unsuspecting victims – particularly those using dating platforms,” Pauline Smith, head of Action Fraud, told City A.M.

Gaining trust

Victims have reported being approached on dating platforms by criminals, who at first will engage in typical conversation in order to build a trusting relationship.

Once a level of trust has been established, the fraudster will change the topic of conversation to an investment opportunity that they claim can help make the victim money.

The victim is then persuaded to continue the conversation on a secondary messaging platform, which often cannot provide the same level of safety as dating platforms.

In some cases, victims have been deceived into transferring funds on multiple occasions, having been told their initial investment was successful. In other cases, victims have been told they cannot access their investment without paying various “charges” such as transaction fees, security deposits and currency conversion costs, Action Fraud said.

The fraudster will typically cut all contact when the victim refuses to transfer more funds, or says they have run out of money.