The first weekend of January is typically one of the busiest times of the year for online dating sites. However, as people look for a fresh start in the New Year, it’s important to be aware of the risks of romance fraud.

Romance fraud, or dating fraud, happens when people are conned into providing bank details or sending money to a person they’ve met through an online dating site, app or social media.

This New Year, Victim Support is encouraging people to follow some simple tips to date safe online.

  • Get to know the person, not the profile. Trust your instincts if something doesn’t feel right and end the conversation.
  • Never send money to someone you’ve met online, no matter what reason they give or how long you’ve been speaking with them.
  • Take control of the conversation and don’t feel pressured into anything you don’t want to do. Keep the conversation on the dating site, where it will be more secure, until you have met them in person and feel comfortable that you know them well enough to speak outside of the dating site.
  • If you do arrange to meet up in person, meet in a public place and let a friend or relative know where you’re going.
  • Be suspicious if they want to meet somewhere that isn’t public, or if they ask you not to discuss your relationship with anyone.

In February, Victim Support will be working in partnership with Age UK, Get Safe Online, the Online Dating Association, Action Fraud and Falcon (Metropolitan Police) in a campaign to raise awareness of and help remove the stigma associated with romance fraud.

There are organisations that can help you if you experience romance or dating fraud. Victim Support offers free and confidential support to anyone affected by crime, regardless of when it happened or whether it’s been reported.

After losing £15,000 in an online dating scam, David turned to Victim Support for help. He said: “The best thing about Victim Support is the friendliness. They’ve been so understanding, without making me feel guilty or stupid.”

You can also report fraud and cyber crime to Action Fraud online or by calling 0300 123 2040.

Other useful links and advice