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People in Cheshire urged to stay safe online in the run-up to Valentine's Day

Cheshire Police is backing Get Safe Online’s #datesafe campaign ahead of Valentine’s Day to make sure people are more cautious when dating online.

Whilst online dating can be a great place to meet people there are also scammers and blackmailers out there who are looking to take advantage of those looking for love.

Get Safe Online has put together the best advice available to make sure that you don’t fall victim to someone’s scam, and instead fall for Mr or Miss Right.

PC Mike Wynne, who is part of Cheshire Constabulary’s economic crime unit, said: “We have seen a number of dating frauds recently and in all cases the victim has sent money to a person they have never met as a result of an emotive hard luck-story.

“Fraudsters gain the confidence of the victims by creating characters, who communicate online or on the phone. Fraudsters make a living out of this sort of scam, they are good at what they do and can be very convincing but it is important to remember that these are just characters in a scam, not real people. Common characters include nurses, students and soldiers.

“Fraudsters will quickly declare their love for the victim, describing themselves as their boyfriend/ girlfriend or even by saying that they will marry the victim. In most cases they claim to live abroad and request financial assistance to move to the UK, to be with the victim. In reality they never arrive and usually say that they have had medical issues, or problems with the law in their own country and request more money from the victim to deal with these issues.

“Fraudsters usually ask from money to be sent by a money transfer service (ie. Western Union, Moneygram etc.) or bank transfer. Money sent in this way is not usually recoverable.

“Fraudsters often ask victims of dating fraud to receive money from them and forward it on to other people. In these cases the victim is used as a ‘mule’ to launder money, which is a serious offence.

“These scams can be very long-winded and can run for months as the fraudsters are very persistent and will try to get as much money as possible from the victims. In some cases victims have lost tens of thousands of pounds.”

Get Safe Online have five tips for people who have met someone online with the acronym DATES;

1.    Don’t rush into an online relationship – get to know the person, not the profile and ask plenty of questions

2.    Analyse their profile and check the person is genuine by putting their name, profile pictures or and repeatedly used phrases and the term ‘dating scam’ into your search engine

3.    Talk to your friends and family about your dating choices. Be wary of anyone who tells you not to tell others about them

4.    Evade scammers by never sending money to, or sharing your bank details with, someone you’ve met online, no matter what reason they give or how long you've been speaking to them

5.    Stay on the dating site messenger service until you’re confident the person is who they say they are. If you do decide to meet in person, make sure the first meeting is in a public place and let someone else know where you’re going to be

 


 

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