Fraudsters are masquerading as lonely hearts to target vulnerable victims, according to analysis by KPMG. The KPMG Fraud Barometer found fraudsters are using dating sites to find victims and posing as lonely hearts to identify vulnerable targets. Members of the public lost a total of £3.2m from dating scams alone in 2015.*
In one case a lonely hearts fraudster used multiple dating sites to find potential victims, and conned five women out of £180,000, using the money to fund his extravagant lifestyle.
James Maycock, Forensic Director at KPMG, said: “Fraudsters are posing as lonely hearts with the sole intention of seeking out the trusting and vulnerable and taking advantage of their good nature. By manipulating this technology they target multiple victims at the same time, while keeping costs and overheads low.
“While operators of sites need to do what they can to protect users, individuals also need to keep their details safe and never part with money or financial information to these would be Lotharios.
“We have seen numerous innocent people looking for love lose their life savings. However, these criminals rob their victims of far more than just money, destroying their confidence and trust in others.
”While these fraudsters can be highly convincing and persistent, individuals can help to protect themselves against ‘romance fraud’ by taking the following precautions:
Notes to editors:
*KPMG’s Fraud Barometer measures fraud cases with losses of £100,000 or more reaching the UK courts.
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