When people think of romance fraud, they tend to automatically think of the victim being someone searching for love online and falling for a fraudster. This is not always the case.
The pubs, clubs and late bars are all open after the lifting of Covid restrictions, but who actually goes ‘on the pull’ anymore? It seems to be an old school practice. Seriously, when was the last time someone bought you a drink, or vice versa in a bar? Meeting someone when looking for love is very much an online activity and dating app member numbers continue to rise.
But the trouble with online apps is the clandestine nature of it all. It’s bad enough people being ‘economic with the truth’, and looking totally different in person to their online profile. But are some people even on dating apps to find love at all? Are they actually on there for the same reasons you are? Are they actually interested in your interests? Do they really like the same TV shows and bands you like, and have they really got a similar tattoo to yours - in the same place as you have? Or, are they in fact simply crooks, looking to steal your identity?
Identity theft in the online dating world is a growing trend and many people have fallen victim to having their personal data used without their knowledge or consent - you might know this crime as 'catfishing'.
This offence involves someone taking over another person's identity online and pretending to be them, whilst using social media platforms to trawl for unsuspecting victims. They will use information, such as your name, your images from your accounts, even your history (e.g. where you went to school or where you work), to create fake profiles with which to lure people into relationships.
Most of these crimes could easily be avoided with the right protection on your devices.
Here are 10 tips on securing your online accounts:
Exclude important personal information from your profiles.
Review your privacy and security settings. Set accounts to 'private' so unknown people can't see the information on your profile.
Keep strong and unique passwords. For another layer of security, add 2-factor or multi-factor authentication.
Watch out for 'phishing' emails.
Close any unused accounts.
Keep all devices and antivirus software up-to-date.
Block any users that arouse suspicion.
Regularly check your mailbox for suspicious activity, including your sent items.
Do not give away any personal or financial information or send goods to people you are unsure of or just met online.
Ensure that your social media or dating connections are who they say they are - when in doubt, throw them out.
Report all Fraud and Cybercrime to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040 or online. Forward suspicious emails to firstname.lastname@example.org. Report SMS scams by forwarding the original message to 7726 (spells SPAM on the keypad).