Lancashire Police warning about romance fraud after intimate pictures shared with victim’s employer

Lancashire Police are warning people about romance fraud in the run-up to Valentine’s Day after a sextortion crime where intimate pictures were shared with a victim’s employer.

Police said romance fraud has a devastating effect on victims emotionally, as well as financially.

A spokesman for Lancashire Police said: “Dating fraud victims include all sexes and age groups, so please don’t assume that it only applies to the more mature female!”

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So what is romance fraud?

Police are warning computer users to be aware of 'romance fraud'.

Romance fraud occurs when a victim thinks that they’ve met the perfect partner online either via a dating app, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok etc, but they are using a fake profile to form a relationship with them.

They gain a victim’s trust over a number of weeks or months, making them believe that they are in a loving and caring relationship.

However, the criminal’s end goal is only ever to get their money or personal information.

Criminals are experts at impersonating people. They spend hours researching victims for their scams.

Lancashire Police are warning about romance fraud in the run-up to Valentine's Day. Picture from Lancashire Police.

Romance fraud takes on many guises with scammers, going from over the top affectionate to downright vicious when they don’t get what they want.

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They will try anything to extort money from their victim.

Following the rules below can help to keep you safe:

Be wary of revealing personal information about yourself online. Never send them any money

Remain on a dating site’s messaging platform, do not switch to direct messaging. Never allow them access to your bank account

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Remember that anyone can pretend to be anyone they want to be online. Never transfer money on their behalf

Be wary if you are encouraged to keep things from your family and friends. Never take a loan out for them

Be wary of anyone asking lots of questions about you, but not revealing much about themselves. Never provide copies of your personal documents such as passports or driving licenses. Information is as valuable to criminals as money because they can use it in other fraudulent acts

Sextortion

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Fraudsters will also ask for an exchange of intimate photographs (theirs will obviously be fake) which they will then use to coerce and blackmail their victim into giving them even more money and in return they will not share the photographs with the victim’s family and friends.

This is known as sextortion and although it is used across all age groups, it’s particularly relevant for younger people.

The suspect may say that they’re a young female in the UK, when chances are they’re a middle-aged male in a foreign country.

Police have had crimes where intimate images have been shared with a victim’s employer.

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Support and advice can be given by Victim Support.

They also have a department specifically for younger people.

Getting your money back

There is a process that you can follow to appeal to your bank for a refund.

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Results vary from bank to bank and case by case.

But before you part with any more of your hard-earned cash then attempt to do it yourself.

Do not be embarrassed to talk to your bank about this scam – you are a victim of crime and you won’t be the first person to talk to them about it.

As always please report all cases of fraud through to Action Fraud.