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Gardaí warn people to beware of romance scams after woman parts with €48,000

Gardaí are advising people to beware of romance scams this Valentine's Day after one woman gave €48,000 to a fraudster over a 13-month period.

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

She initially delayed reporting the fraud to gardaí as she was married.

In another case in the west, a fraudster was found guilty of taking nearly €19,000 from a victim.

They obtained money through deception over a five-month period after meeting the victim through a dating website.

Gardaí say 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.

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 the following excuses: to cover the cost of travelling to see the victim; for emergency medical expenses for the scammer or a family member — typically a child; 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," she said.