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An Garda Síochána Romance Fraud Awareness, Valentine's Day 2023

Be wary of online relationships, especially if you are asked for money or to invest in a scheme or business

• 70% of romance fraud victims are women

• Do not share personal details online

Do not share or receive money online

• Investment fraud linked to romance fraud

As Valentine’s Day approaches, An Garda Síochána is asking members of the public to be vigilant of romance fraud. Romance fraud happens all year round and not just around Valentine’s Day. In 2022, 70% of all victims of romance fraud were female. Last year €1,958,089 was stolen, up 23% on the previous year. A total of €5,923,869 has been stolen in romance fraud since 2019.

Romance fraudsters may try to get their victims to send them money using the following excuses:

  • To cover the cost of travelling to see the victim
  • For emergency medical expenses, customs duties or other bills
  • A business opportunity which would see the victim make a quick profit

There is an ever increasing link between romance fraud and investment fraud. In many cases, scammers will ask victims to invest in a fraudulent scheme or business. Such investments ultimately see the funds transferred to the fraudster through a number of linked accounts. Members of the public are advised to be vigilant as there are huge risks involved in investing in cryptocurrencies and not to share any money with someone they meet through online websites or apps and to get professional and legal advice before investing.

An Garda Síochána works closely with Europol to disrupt the activities of romance scammers, particularly organised crime gangs that engage in this type of criminality; as well as monitoring dating sites for this activity.

Case Studies:

  • A female pensioner contacted Gardaí to report that she had lost €100,000 after she met a man on a dating app who claimed to be working abroad and needed the money.
  • A female, in her late 40’s contacted Gardaí to report that she was at the loss of €27,000, as a result of meeting a male through social media. She believed she was in a romantic relationship and sent money to an account as she thought the scammer was moving to Ireland to start a life with her.
  • A male, in his 40’s reported that he befriended a female online. He forwarded €20,000 to the female after he was convinced to deal in cryptocurrency.
  • A female, in her 20’s believed she was in contact with a male online who stated he was in Yemen. She forwarded €4,500 to this person to assist them in travelling to Ireland.

An Garda Síochána wishes to provide the following information and advice to members of the public:

What are the Signs?

Romance fraudsters will:

  • Try to move communications away from dating websites. They suggest that you move to instant messaging, text or phone calls instead. 
  • Ask a lot of personal questions.
  • Avoid answering personal questions about themselves. The details that they do tell you seem made up or do not reflect reality. For instance, they may say that they are university educated, but their spelling and grammar is poor. 
  • Try to establish a bond quickly. For example, they may give you an endearing pet name e.g. baby, darling, etc. 
  • Ask for financial help. They may tell you about money problems in the hope that you will offer to help. 
  • Ask you to invest in a fraudulent scheme or business. 
  • Never meet you in person. They will present obstacles and may go as far as making arrangements and cancelling them at the last minute. They may promise to want to see you but offer excuses which delay this, such as financial troubles.

What can you do?

  • Use trusted dating websites • Do not share personal details • Do not send or receive money • Think twice before using your webcam • Trust your instincts • Do not pay for medical bills, purchase flights, or Visas, pay customs fees or make any payment for them to come to visit you • Do not invest your money in any ‘opportunities’ from someone you’ve met online

For further advice or information or if you believe that you are a victim of a romance scam, or think your identity or personal information has been compromised, please contact any Garda Station and report the crime. Be assured that An Garda Síochána will treat all reports in confidence.