Warning over ‘romance scams’
2019-03-01 00:00:00 -

By Staff Reporter


Gardaí have warned people to beware of so-called ‘romance scams’.


Victims of the scam believe they have met their perfect match online, but the other person is in fact a scammer using a fake profile to build the relationship.


They slowly gain the victim’s trust with a view to eventually asking them for money.


One Irish woman was showered with expensive gifts, including scarves and perfumes, before she was asked to invest in her suitor’s business.


Over a 13-month period the woman gave the fraudster €48,000. She initially delayed reporting the fraud to the Garda as she was married.


The extent of the scam is not fully known because many of the victims are too embarrassed to report the fraud to gardaí.


Detective Inspector Catharina Gunne from the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau said: “Romance fraudsters may try to get their victims to send them money using one of several excuses, including covering the cost of travelling to see the victim; for emergency medical expenses for the scammer or a family member, typically a child; and a business opportunity which would allow them to live together comfortably.


“In the beginning, the amount of money requested will often be small but increases as the scammer becomes more successful in building the ‘relationship’ and tricking the victim.”


Recently a romance fraudster in the west of Ireland was found guilty of taking nearly €19,000 from a victim. The perpetrator obtained money through deception over a five-month period after meeting the victim through a dating website.


An Garda Síochána works closely with Europol to disrupt the activities of romance scammers, particularly organised crime gangs that engage in this type of criminality. Dating websites are often monitored for criminality.

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