Sky News has recently accounted the vastly unreported epidemic of internet dating fraud, which has seen victims in the UK defrauded out of up to £240,000. Estimates suggest more than 200,000 individuals may be victims of criminals, who use false identities using stolen photos of attractive individuals. A relationship is struck up with the victim who at a certain point is asked for financial help.
Research by the University of Leicester and the University of Westminster suggests that the problem is far bigger. Victims are hit with a ‘double trauma’, first the loss of often large sums of money and secondly the loss of what they thought was a blossoming relationship. Many victims are so distraught and embarrassed by the situation they don’t report it, leading to the underestimation of the actual scale of the crime.
The issue lies with the faceless correspondence and romances that are struck up online; male criminals often hide behind the falsified persona of a vulnerable female (or vice versa). At Bowes-Lyon Partnership we meet with each and every member, allowing us to ID them and ascertain whether they really are serious about finding a long term committed partner. Bowes-Lyon Partnership members have the peace of mind that the risk of the internet dating financial scams simply doesn’t exist within the company.
For those individuals who do chose to try to find love on-line, Bowes-Lyon Partnership recommends a few sensible steps to help safeguard themselves:
1. Maintain an element of anonymity – Do not reveal too much information online, such as your telephone number or address and of course, no bank details. Bowes-Lyon Partnership also recommends using an anonymous email address, rather than your usual personal one or a work one.
2. Be wary of those revealing too much information about themselves – If someone begins to tell you the intricate details of their woes, then be wary of not getting dragged into a situation that is nothing to do with you – remember, you’re there to find love and also to have fun, you’re not there to counsel anyone.
3. Meet in a public place – It’s always exciting to finally find someone who sounds like fun to meet up with in person but you still need to exercise some caution. Make sure the first date (or more) is conducted in a public place.
4. Provide your own transportation – There’s no point in meeting in a public place if you have to depend on your date for a ride.
5. Listen to your instincts – Your gut instinct is a finely tuned danger-detecting mechanism. If you get the “uh-oh” feeling, take a step back and analyze the situation. If you still feel uncomfortable, cut contact immediately or excuse yourself from the date straight away.