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Hampshire Constabulary issues reminder to the public to stay safe online as reports of romance fraud rise on approach to Valentines Day

Alert message sent 12/02/2021 16:07:00

Information sent on behalf of Hampshire Constabulary

Hampshire Constabulary is working together with all UK police forces and a range of partners, to tackle romance fraud in the lead up to Valentine’s Day (Sunday 14 Feb).

The multi-agency campaign, co-ordinated by the City of London Police (CoLP) is aiming to raise awareness of romance fraud and provide clear and unambiguous protection advice to the public, following a 26 percent rise nationally in reports to Action Fraud in the last year.

Detective Sargeant Marcus Mills of Hampshire Constabulary’s Economic Crime Unit, said:

“Romance fraud occurs when you think you’ve met the perfect partner online but they are using a fake profile to form a relationship with you. You can meet them via an online dating website or app, social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, or gaming sites.

“They gain your trust over a number of weeks or months and have you believe you are in a loving and caring relationship. However, the criminal’s end goal is only ever to get your money or personal information.”

Between August 2019 and August 2020, 222 reports of romance fraud were made to Action Fraud by residents of Hampshire.

The total reported loss in the same time period was £2million, equating to an average loss per victim of just over £9,000.

While there was a rise in reported incidents of romance fraud within Hampshire (33) in July 2020 – a 175 percent increase on the previous month. This indicates that local residents may have met, and begun talking to, romance fraudsters during the national lockdown caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

It appears as if residents in the 40 – 59 age bracket were the most at risk of romance fraud, accounting for over two fifths (42 percent) of reported incidents in Hampshire during this time period. Residents aged 60-69 were the next age group at risk, while those aged 70 – 89 seemed to be quite low risk, only accounting for 13 percent of all reports.

DS Marcus Mills, continued:

“We appreciate that the majority of open communications via online dating and other platforms are genuine and shouldn’t arouse suspicion, it is always worth taking a moment to stop and think if the person could be someone that they are not. Think before parting with any money or information which could keep you safe.

“If in doubt, challenge that person – is this person really who they say they are? It’s OK to reject, refuse or ignore any requests for your financial or personal details. Only criminals will try to rush or pressure you into making a decision.”

If you think you’ve been a victim of romance fraud or a romance-based scam contact your bank immediately and report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or via actionfraud.police.uk.
Message sent by
Wes Hutchins (Police, Corporate Communications Officer, Hampshire)

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