BE wary when a love interest you meet online starts asking you for money.
That is the warning from gardaí ahead of Valentine's Day, as they raise awareness of a scam called Romance Fraud.
Last year, one Irish woman lost €62,000 in such a fraud, while a man lost €50,000 Last year, up to €1 million was lost in Ireland in 75 cases of the fraud reported to gardaí.
A garda spokesman said the fraud is typically targeted at people on online dating websites by people who have set up fake identities and photographs.
The spokesman added: “Inevitably, the fraudster will ask their victim for money.
The fraudster will continue to ask for money until the victim has no more money to give or realise they are being conned.
This crime often leaves vulnerable people with a feeling of hurt and mistrust in addition to their financial loss.”
Gardai outline the following warning signs:
• The fraudster asking the victim to communicate by instant messaging, text or phone calls rather than messaging through the dating website
• The fraudster will start asking for money for various reasons, starting with low amounts:
- to pay for travel to meet the victim - to pay moving expenses (ship furniture and pay customs)
- to pay medical expenses for a sick child or relative - to invest in a guaranteed business opportunity
- to pay a tax bill or other spurious reason • No meetings in person take place.
The fraudster will present reasons for not meeting, or may arrange to meet and then cancel
• The fraudster will avoid personal questions, but will ask plenty
• They will ask for money to be transferred to bank accounts abroad or via money transfer agencies to locations outside of Ireland
• Phone calls from Irish numbers or lodgements to Irish bank accounts should not be considered as evidence that the person is genuine