Northamptonshire singletons have been warned about fraudsters who use dating websites to steal your money and identity after they've stolen your heart.
The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) has learned about the methods used by dating fraudsters by speaking to one such con artist.
Now, the bureau is sharing this information to help prevent others from falling for a fraudster.
"They will steal your heart, they will steal your money and your identification," warned an NFIB spokesman.
"You think you’ve met the perfect partner through an online dating website or app, but the other person is using a fake profile to form a relationship with you.
"They’re using the site to gain your trust and ask you for money or enough personal information to steal your identity."
To help prevent doubts about their authenticity, a dating fraudster will create fake accounts on several social media platforms so that their details match and can be searched for, and therefore appear to be a real person.
By giving that impression their fake persona could be seemingly confirmed by prospective partners searching their background and believe them to be genuine.
The fraudster said: "People like to live in fairytales, to say it won’t happen to me.
"I make sure all my conversations are bespoke.
"I will show insecurity myself about trusting people and this helps allude to them that I’m genuine."
The con artist will also use as many accessible online research tools to explore people’s information for their own personal gain or sell onwards.
"I use various online directories to find out about the person," they explained.
"Once I have enough, I use it to milk everything I can using their details or sell them on to other fraudsters via the dark web."
When asked how people could check if a person is real, the romance fraudster advised asking for a picture of them.
"Then ask them to send you another photo of themselves posing with their thumbs up or waving. It’s like a form of two-factor authentication and makes it hard to do if it’s not an original picture."
The NFIB also has the following preventative advice:
- Avoid sharing too many personal details when on online dating profiles. Revealing your full name, date of birth, or full home address may lead to your identity being stolen.
- Never respond to any requests to send money, or have money transferred into your account by someone you don’t know and trust. These types of requests should always raise a red flag. If something feels wrong then it is usually right to question it.
- Pick a reputable dating website or app, and use the built-in messaging service. Fraudsters want to quickly switch to social media or texting so there’s no evidence of them asking you for money.