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Some dating profiles are set up by fraudsters to manipulate people into sending them money.
How can you tell if an online relationship is genuine or fake?
We uncover the techniques that fraudsters use to draw people into a romance scam.
Fraudsters know how to set up, influence and isolate people with messages.
They want to take control and it’s very hard for a person in a relationship to recognise they’re being manipulated.
But the warning signs are there if you know where to look.
Can you identify any of the tricks in this real-life romance scam?
I joined a Facebook group of a film I loved and a member called Paul sent a private message.
We stayed in the group until Paul suggested WhatsApp, where our chat became more about our lives.
We messaged daily and Paul shared photos of himself, some with his daughter. We even spoke on the phone, but Paul never wanted to video call.
Sadly, Paul’s bank account was blocked and he couldn’t get any money.
He sent photos of bank statements showing £1 million was due to clear and more in savings. I agreed to help and sent gift cards and some money.
Suddenly, Paul’s daughter fell ill and needed an urgent kidney transplant. I saw photos of her in hospital and the doctor caring for her sent a message.
Paul was overseas with the army. He asked me to pay the hospital bill, promising to pay me back when his bank was okay to use again. I said yes and had to send money to a lady named Monique, who dealt with the payments for the hospital.
I couldn’t afford to send any more, but Paul suggested I get a loan. This made me nervous, so I told my daughter who made me realise I’d been the victim of a romance scam.
I ended the relationship but lost over £14,500. If I hadn’t told my family, I could have lost a lot more than just my money.
It took me a while to get over Paul, but I’m happy now and with someone I’ve met in person who loves me.
And one last thing: If a relationship feels pressured or secretive, never be afraid to talk to someone about it as it could be a fraudster.
Do you know how to avoid social media scams, an investment scam or what to look out for if a fraudster pretends to be your bank?