Norfolk Trading Standards warns of romance scams ahead of Valentine’s Day

Norfolk Trading Standards has issued a warning. Picture Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Norfolk Trading Standards has issued a warning. Picture Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire - Credit: PA

With the most romantic day of the year nearly here, Norfolk Trading Standards are urging those using dating or chat websites to think about protecting themselves from romance scammers.

Last year more than 200,000 people reported falling victim to a romance scam in the UK.

Romance scammers attempt to build up an online relationship with their victim and gain their trust. They will often spend long periods, weeks, months or even a year 'grooming' victims with regular communication and photos in an attempt to get them to lower their guard.

Once they are confident that their victim has enough desire for them, they will tell them about a problem they are experiencing and ask their victim to help out by sending money.

Examples of these include needing funds to cover travel or visa costs to meet their victim, a sudden personal emergency and illness to a family member.

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Once the money has been sent the scammer will keep coming back with more reasons why further money is needed.

Norfolk Trading Standards has issued the following advice to staying safe online this Valentine's Day:

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• Never reveal too much personal information

•Do what you can to find out if profiles you are interested in are genuine

• Think about what they say online, are they always asking questions about you but saying very little about themselves, even avoiding basic questions like where they live or what they do?

• Don't be rushed into communicating away from the website, be very wary if they quickly want to use personal email addresses, instant or text messages or by the phone only

• Never send or transfer money to people you meet online no matter ehat they say it is for

• And finally trust your instincts, if something doesn't feel right stop communicating with them .

If you have been a victim of romance scammer and sent money or given them financial details you should report this to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or via the Action Fraud website.

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