£100,000 conned from 19 locked-down love-seekers in the West Midlands
Almost £100,000 has been scammed out of people looking for love during lockdown across the West Midlands.
A total of 19 victims were duped out of the cash in the last three months by con artists, officers have said.
The figures were revealed as singletons across the region were warned to be vigilant about criminals exploiting their search for love.
The fraudsters have set up fake online profiles and built up a rapport with the victims, who believe they have found a trusting companion.
But then they claim to need money with convincing stories around their job roles before asking the victims to send cash directly.
Scammers are also asking questions to gain enough information to access accounts themselves, depending on the nature of the relationship.
Typical lies include pretending to be in the military and needing money to return home, saying they're volunteers and need help raising cash or making up a fake business in need of support.
The majority of those scammed between March and May were people aged in their 50s and 60s locked down alone.
Kloe Burrows, from West Midlands Police's economic crime unit, said: "These criminals seek to exploit people looking for love and companionship.
"They establish a trust and affection with the victim before asking them for money or obtaining enough personal details to steal their identity.
"It’s important to think ’dates’ when looking for love online and protect yourselves against falling victim to a con-artist.
"They not only cause heartbreak but may stop you connecting with one of the many eligible singletons."
West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson added: "This really is one of the lowest forms of deception. Online romance fraud scams deliberately target people who are looking for friendship and love.
"Under these circumstances some people become extremely vulnerable to deception and these heartless scammers, often hundreds of miles away, have carefully laid traps to pounce and con innocent people out of sometimes several thousand pounds.
"With almost £100,000 already scammed from people in this way from the West Midlands since March alone, it’s vital we stop these fraudsters in their tracks.
"By highlighting what could be a very sensitive subject for some, we can at least draw their attention to the dangers of the fraud they face when they go online to try to meet potential partners."
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