£2.4m in Romance fraud across Avon & Somerset
Avon & Somerset Police report that residents were scammed out of £2.4million through Romance Fraud. The figure, released yesterday is for the 12 months up to and including October 2021. 238 cases were reported by people living in Avon and Somerset. More than half of the victims were aged 40-69. That is an average of £10,000 scammed from each victim. However the force tell us it is widely accepted the true number of cases is likely to be much higher. Mainly because people are embarrassed and are often reluctant to report what has happened.
Fraud Protect Officer Amy Horrobin explains: “We often hear people are reluctant to report romance fraud cases because they feel embarrassed. However, there is absolutely no reason to. Your case will be taken seriously, you will be listened to and we can help you access any support you may need. You are not alone.“
Then weeks, or sometimes months later, these criminals will ask for money. They’ll use a variety of emotive reasons. As the emotional relationship has already been formed, victims often transfer money without a second thought.
Avon and Somerset Police are supporting a national campaign to raise awareness of Romance Fraud. To show people how dating profiles and apps can lead to people being a victim of a scam. They are also asking family members to support potential victims. Their advice is:
- Help your friends and family to ensure they have adequate privacy settings on their social media accounts to ensure strangers don’t have access to their personal information.
- Stay in regular contact with your friends and family who are online dating to help spot any changes in behaviour or things that don’t seem right.
- Make friends and family aware of the signs of romance fraud so that they are conscious of the tactics criminals use to carry out these scams and reiterate that you should never transfer money to someone that you have never met in person.
- Encourage people to report to Action Fraud and the police if they have become a victim of romance fraud and not to be embarrassed about doing so.
If you think you’ve been a victim of fraud, contact your bank immediately and report it to Action Fraud online at actionfraud.police.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040.