Gardaí advise people in Donegal to be aware of ‘Romance’ fraud
Gardaí in Donegal are warning the public to be wary of romance fraud as scammers are becoming more and more sophisticated in parting you from your money.
Between January, this year, and the end of Mar thirty-one cases of romance fraud have been reported to An Garda Síochána.
Among those who reported the fraud are twenty-three females and 8 males.
Sergeant Eunan Walsh said that in all of these cases, except one, the victims encountered the suspect through a dating app or social media.
The total loss incurred in the thirty-one cases was €812,715. In almost every case, the money was transferred to accounts outside Ireland or to bitcoin wallets. This particular fraud is enabled via online dating sites or other social media by fraudsters who will provide the victims with well-prepared stories designed to deceive.
The victims develop online relationships with the fraudsters who use fake identities, photographs and life stories. Inevitably, the fraudster will ask their victim for money. The fraudster will continue to ask for money until the victim has no more money to give or realise they are being deceived.
This crime often leaves vulnerable people with a feeling of hurt and mistrust in addition to their financial loss.
The advice from GNECB to any person on a dating site or in communication with a person they never met over social media is as follows:
1. Use reputable dating sites and use their messaging service. Do not move to social media or texting too quickly. Be especially wary of unsolicited links or approaches or suggested likes.
2. Be careful about what you share on social media and online dating websites. Do not reveal your full name or home address. Protect your identity.
3. Be wary of anyone asking lots of questions about you but not revealing much about themselves. They will come across as being the ideal person. They will like what you like. Their interests will mirror yours. Their family situation will mirror yours. They will want what you want. They want you to provide live videos but they can’t / won’t. Watch out for snippets of conversation which are out of sync with previous chats. These fraudsters are engaging with multiple victims at the same time, following scripts prepared for them and they can get mixed up on occasions as to which victim they are talking to.
4. Never send money or give your bank details to somebody you have never met, no matter how much you believe and trust them. Do not download apps like ‘AnyDesk’ at their behest or allow them to have control over your device
5. Do not send them money or pay for medical bills, purchase flights, or VISAs, pay customs fees or make any payment for them to come to visit you.
6. Do not invest your money in any ‘opportunities’ offered by them or anyone whom you only ‘met’ online. Always seek independent financial and legal advice first.
7. Remember individuals can pretend to be anyone they want to be online. You can google an image to see if it comes up on several sites or profiles.
8. Never provide copies of your personal documents such as passports or driving licences.
9. Never make arrangements or travel to meet them unless you are sure of their identity. Make sure you confide in someone and ensure that the person is aware you are confiding in someone else.
10. Save copies of correspondence with them.
11. If you think you have fallen victim, contact your bank immediately. The quicker you act the better chance of recouping any lost funds
12. Please do not be embarrassed about reporting this type of fraud to Gardaí, you are not alone.
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