There has been an increase in the amount of romance scams occurring in Co Clare, Gardaí have confirmed.
Crime Prevention Officer, Tríona Brooks stated that use of the internet for dating purposes is more prevalent in the county “and so unfortunately the number of scams associated with it and amounts of money lost”.
Romance scams arise when an individual pretends to be romantically interested in a person with the objective of gaining their attention and trust with the perceived promise of a continued romantic involvement. Their ultimate purpose is to encourage the victim of the scam to transfer funds to accounts in the control of the criminal under false pretences.
Brooks outlined that the warning signs include when they ask a lot of questions about you but don’t reveal too much about themselves, a desire to communicate through instant messaging or texts rather than the dating website or chat room in which the interaction started.
Other warning signs are the quick use of a pet name or endearing terms, a refusal to answer basic questions about where they live or work, asking to send money using different scenarios, “their profile picture is too perfect” and “they arrange to visit you but need money to pay travel costs”.
Tips that the crime prevention officer recommended are the trusting of one’s instincts, do not post personal information such as phone numbers on dating sites, use authentic dating websites, never send money or give credit cards/online account details to anyone you don’t know.
“Wait until you feel comfortable with an individual before revealing your phone number, place of work or address. Always be mindful of what you post on the internet. It’s there for everybody to see and not just your friends. Beware if there are requests for inappropriate photos. These could be used for the purposes of blackmail at a later stage. Report unusual or abusive behaviour on websites and if you are the victim of such a scam please don’t be embarrassed to report it,” Brooks added.
75 instances of romance scams were reported to Gardaí in Ireland last year. In one case, a woman was scammed into sending more than €50,000 abroad, in total Irish victims lost over €1m from romance scams last year.