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Author: Age UK
Published on 13 February 2017 10:30 AM

According to latest figures by the police, one victim reports dating fraud every three hours. Age UK has joined a partnership which aims to tackle this problem.

  • On average fraudsters ask their victims to transfer money within one month of first contact
  • Almost half (45%) of victims indicated that dating fraud had a ‘significant’ impact on their health or financial wellbeing
  • The average amount lost by a dating fraud victim in the UK is £10,000
  • New multi-agency partnership created to work with the Online Dating Association to reduce the number of people who fall victim to dating fraud.

Dating fraud: a growing problem

Every day, seven reports of dating fraud are received by Action Fraud – on average one every three hours.

This is an increase of 32% over a two year period (from January 2013-December 2015) according to new national figures released today by City of London Police.

How much money is defrauded?

The average victim of dating fraud will lose £10,000. The situation often escalates very quickly, with it only taking 30 days for most victims to make their first transfer after meeting the fraudster.

Between 2015 and 2016 nearly £40 million in total was lost through dating fraud with 3,889 reports made. However, evidence suggests that this doesn’t accurately represent the true scale of the problem. The embarrassment felt by some victims of fraud which can discourage them from coming forward to report their experience.

New partnership announced

In a first for the UK, a partnership will bring together leaders from multiple sectors: technology; law enforcement and the charity sector to work collaboratively. Age UK, along with Victim Support, the City of London Police, London Metropolitan Police (FALCON) and Get Safe Online will work with the Online Dating Association to:

  • Better understand how fraudsters operate
  • Find ways to most effectively share safety messages to users of online dating sites and apps with the aim of reducing the number of people falling victim to fraud.
  • Share their advice for dating safely.

#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.

'It's really positive that older people are joining dating websites, but we urge them to be aware of the real risks and take basic steps to stay safe online... With a quarter of dating fraud victims in their 50s, it's really important for older people to be aware of this crime. Many of these fraudsters are highly sophisticated criminals so people mustn’t feel ashamed or embarrassed about it happening to them.' - Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director of Age UK.

Further information

For more information: Call Age UK Advice: 0800 169 2081