Valentines scam targeting online daters

IF you have missed out on falling under Cupids spell this Valentines Day you may be thinking about signing up to an online dating agency.

IF you have missed out on falling under Cupids spell this Valentines Day you may be thinking about signing up to an online dating agency.

But Suffolk Trading Standards are warning people to be cautious.

Whilst thousands of people signed up to dating sites find true love and happiness some are falling victim to an internet scam.

The message is to be aware as people are signing up to sites creating a false profile and contacting people on the pretence of seeking romance before stealing money from their victim.

Scammers can easily sign up to these sites and chat rooms just as anyone else can, it is often difficult for dating agencies to screen the vast number of people signing up.

They will not ask for your money immediately.

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Instead they build up a relationship with you, making numerous promises to attract you and prompt you to drop your defences.

A spokeswoman for Suffolk Trading Standards said it is important people are aware of the signs to look out for.

Firstly the scammer will try to convince you that you are in a loving relationship.

The next logical step is for them to meet you, but there will be a problem.

They will then tell you they don't have enough money to come and see you.

And so they will ask you to send money to them via a money transfer agent so that they are untraceable.

They may also tell you they are abroad and do not have enough money for the flight or a visa, that they have been robbed or beaten, or they require urgent surgery and you are the only person who can help.

Beware also of people using PO Box addresses and telephone numbers they never answer and do not have a voicemail. Another clue can be if you new online date talks about themselves a lot and fails to answer your questions, it maybe a sign they are sending the email to hundreds of people.

Marc Titford, principal Trading Standards officer, said: “To protect yourself from falling victim to an online dating scam, Suffolk Trading Standards recommends that you never, ever send money or reveal your bank details to someone you do not know, however plausible they sound.

“Stop, think and be sceptical. Is this person who they really say they are?”

If you think you have been the victim of a scam, or you suspect a scam, call Consumer Direct for clear, practical advice on 08454 04 05 06 or visit www.consumerdirect.gov.uk.