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Romance fraud warning from Police

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ROMANCE FRAUD has scammed one islander out of a 'substantial amount' of money, Guernsey Police have said.

'Be wary of romance fraud,' they warned. 'It is very common and targets those who are seeking companionship but can have devastating consequences on victims.'

The warning comes after officers were dealing with someone who had been the victim of the 'particularly devastating and manipulative' scam earlier today.

Often the fraudster will post a fake online profile or will engage freely on social media platforms using mostly fictional details, a Police spokesperson explained.

'They will go to extreme lengths to gain and develop the victim's trust.'

During the 'grooming period', the fraudster will be continually assessing the victim's financial situation.

'Once the fraudster ascertains that the victim is a good financial prospect they then elaborate further with emotive stories of hardship.'

Giving examples, Police warned islanders to be cautious of stories including - but not limited to - being trapped in a foreign country and having no means to buy a ticket home, having large medical bills to pay off or having close relatives in need of urgent medical care.

'The fraudster will then ask for financial assistance and will promise to repay the amount. On other occasions they may ask the victim to transfer money into other persons' accounts.

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'The victim becomes embroiled in an emotional connection with the fraudster and almost always struggles to believe that they are the subject of a fraud.'

Islanders who suspect that they, or a loved one, might be subject to romance fraud were encouraged to take some protective steps:

- Reverse image search any images sent to you by a potential scammer using www.images.google.com and clicking the camera icon to upload the image. Scammers often use the same image for multiple social media profiles, which could be shown on the search.

- Avoid handing out personal information, email addresses, phone numbers and especially personal bank details - a scammer could use this to steal your identity.

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- Do not send or receive money from someone you have only met online.

- Keep family and friends informed - they may be able to spot something suspicious and can help provide emotional support in difficult situations.

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The Action Fraud website provides further information on romance fraud, as well as various other forms of scam.

It also offers a step-by-step guide on how to report an incident and gives you the option of passing your details onto Victim Support, who offer free practical and emotional support.

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Alternatively, if you believe you are the victim of fraud, contact Guernsey Police on 725111.

Zoe Fitch

By Zoe Fitch
News reporter

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