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  • Northside East

Gardaí issue 'romance fraud' warning for Valentine's Day

Thursday, 13th February, 2020 10:36am
Gardaí issue 'romance fraud' warning for Valentine's Day

PHOTO: BIGSTOCK

Gardaí issue 'romance fraud' warning for Valentine's Day

PHOTO: BIGSTOCK

Gardaí have warned members of the public to be aware of ‘romance fraud’ in the run up to St Valentine’s Day.

In 2019, 75 cases of romance fraud were reported to gardaí. The victims were both male and female and total losses suffered were in excess of €1,000,000.

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 conned. This crime often leaves vulnerable people with a feeling of hurt and mistrust, in addition to the financial loss.

The warning signs include:

• The fraudster asking the victim to communicate by instant messaging, text or phone calls rather than messaging through the dating website.

• The fraudster will start asking for money for various reasons, starting with low amounts:
- to pay for travel to meet the victim
- to pay moving expenses (ship furniture and pay customs)
- to pay medical expenses for a sick child or relative
- to invest in a guaranteed business opportunity
- to pay a tax bill or other spurious reason

• No meetings in person take place. The fraudster will present reasons for not meeting, or may arrange to meet and then cancel.
• The fraudster will avoid personal questions, but will ask plenty.
• They will ask for money to be transferred to bank accounts abroad or via money transfer agencies to locations outside of Ireland.
• Phone calls from Irish numbers or lodgements to Irish bank accounts should not be considered as evidence that the person is genuine.

In one case, an Irish victim developed a relationship with a male on a dating website. He gained her trust and she sent him €62,000 over a period of time. In another case, a victim linked up with a female in an online chat room and ended up sending her €50,000.

Read the digital editions of the Dublin People Northside East, Northside West & Southside here