Scamwatch: six signs your internet date is a fraudster
Stay one step ahead of the fraudsters with our series of articles giving you the lowdown on the scams they use to trick people out of their hard-earned cash - and how to avoid being taken in by them.
This week, we explain how to work out whether the person chatting to you on a dating website is a fraudster simply trying to build a relationship so they can steal from you.
How does it work?
Lots of people find love online. But others are left heartbroken after being swindled by fraudsters whose aim is to either trick them out of money or gather enough information to steal their identities.
Scams of this kind generally start with seemingly harmless flirtation, but soon move on to requests for money - for example to pay for a flight so they can visit the victim.
Fortunately, however, there are several ways to spot a fraudster and avoid being conned.
How can I avoid being caught out?
Always remember that anyone you chat to online could be lying about his or her identity. And if he or she seems too good to be true, they probably are.
We've come up with six signs that you are chatting with a criminal, rather than someone who is truly interested in starting a romantic relationship with you.
1. Your "date" asks you to communicate via email rather than through the dating website.
2. Their pictures are too perfect.
3. They ask lots of personal questions, but reveal little about themselves.
4. They start telling you about a health problem they or a close relative is suffering from.
5. They quickly start calling you by a pet name or using terms of endearment such as "darling".
6. They ask you to send money or hand over your credit card or current account details. If this is the case, you can be pretty sure they are running a scam.
I've been defrauded. What should I do?
If you have been caught out by a criminal posing as an online dating website user, break off all contact with the fraudster as soon as you realise what is happening.
Then report the scam to Action Fraud (0300 123 2040), as well as the dating website through which you met. It may also be worth contacting your bank to see if you can recoup any money sent.