Police in Hampshire are warning people to be cautious when using dating websites after receiving reports of suspected scams.
A total of seven people in the county have reported scams to police since the start of this year, in which victims have sent money after speaking to people online.
In each case the victim signed up to a dating website and was approached by another person claiming to live abroad.
Over a course of weeks, months or years, the victim has been asked to send money for a variety of reasons.
These include buying flight tickets to visit, buying a mobile phone, and handing over money on the promise of marriage.
Detective Inspector Lee McClellan, of Basingstoke CID, said: ‘The victims in these types of incidents are often vulnerable and genuinely believe they are in a relationship with the person they have met online.
‘While the majority of accounts on dating websites are genuine people looking for romance, some are used by fraudsters to gain people’s trust and ask them for money or enough personal information to steal their identity.
‘Once victims send money, the fraudsters will keep coming back and invent new reasons to send them more.
‘It can be embarrassing for the victim to report they have been scammed, but we would urge anyone who believes they have been a victim, or anyone who believes they know someone who may be a victim, to call us on 101.’
How to protect yourself online
- Avoid giving away too many personal details when dating online – revealing your full name, date of birth may lead to your identity being stolen.
- Never send or receive money or give away your bank details to someone you’ve only met online, no matter how much you trust them or believe their story.
- Pick a reputable dating website and use the site’s messaging service – fraudsters will want to switch to social media or texting so there’s no evidence of them asking you for money.