Seven instances of dating fraud are reported to Action Fraud every day — on average one every three hours — according to new figures released today by City of London Police. The figures also highlight a 32% increase in reports of dating fraud over a two year period from January 2013 to January 2015.

On average, victims of dating fraud will first transfer money to the fraudster in less than one month (30 days) of contact, and will lose £10,000.

Between 2015 and 2016, nearly £40 million was lost through dating fraud, with 3,889 reports made in total. Almost half (45%) of victims who spoke about the impact of dating fraud said the crime had a ‘significant’ impact on their health or financial wellbeing.

Victim Support and Age UK, along with the City of London PoliceLondon Metropolitan Police (FALCON) and Get Safe Online, are working in partnership with the Online Dating Association to better understand how fraudsters operate.

The partnership has also come up with five simple tips to help people date safely online.

Our #DateSafe tips

  1. Get to know the person, not the profile and ask plenty of questions — don’t rush into an online relationship.
  2. Check the person is genuine by putting their name, profile pictures or any repeatedly used phrases and the term ‘dating scam’ into your search engine.
  3. Talk to your friends and family about your dating choices. Be wary of anyone who tells you not to tell others about them.
  4. Never send money to someone you’ve met online, no matter what reason they give or how long you’ve been speaking to them.
  5. Don’t move the conversation off the dating site messenger until you’re confident the person is who they say they are.

Neil Masters, National Fraud and Cyber Crime Lead at Victim Support, said:

‘Dating fraud can shatter people’s lives both financially and emotionally and we know that losing what felt like a trusting and very real relationship is often what is most difficult to come to terms with.

‘We want to encourage anyone who may have been affected by this to seek help. People shouldn’t feel ashamed or embarrassed if they have been tricked in this way.

‘We offer free and confidential support to help people move on with their lives, regardless of whether or not what’s happened is reported to the police.’

David’s story

David, 58, was using an online dating site and came across someone he thought was an old friend. They got chatting and it wasn’t long before Kerry* had asked him to send £500 towards a plane ticket she needed to buy urgently.

Unfortunately Kerry wasn’t who she said she was, and David was unknowingly defrauded out of £15,000.

I was devastated by what happened to me and it’s massively changed my life.

I don’t feel like I can trust anyone anymore and I find it hard to meet any potential new partner.

It’s taken some time to resolve my financial situation too as that was a large portion of my savings.

Without Victim Support I don’t think I’d be here now.

Read David’s story.

If you’ve experienced dating fraud, we can give you free and confidential support to help you re-build your life. Contact us to find out how we can help.