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    Q968: How can I protect myself against online dating scams?

    Using online dating websites is becoming a popular way to meet people and potentially find love. Scammers take advantage of this and use the sites as an opportunity to scam victims out of money by claiming they have developed feelings for them, or even pretending to be someone else entirely (also known as 'cat fishing').

    The same common sense approach must be used as with any scam - if it seems to good to be true, it probably is! If someone is asking you to transfer money, it is likely they are not who they say they are and it is important to be wary of what they are telling you, no matter how believable their story seems.

    Below are a few tips to ensure you stay safe online and know what signs to look out for:

    • Pick a reputable dating website.
    • Avoid over sharing and divulging your personal information.
    • Never send money or give out your bank details; once the money is sent, it is highly unlikely you will be able to retrieve it.
    • Do their pictures look too good to be true, or you think you have seen them somewhere else? Use this service to find out: https://support.google .com/websearch /answer/1325808?hl=en.
    • Ask lots of questions and suggest arranging a phone call to determine whether they are genuine.
    • Be sceptical - if you are suspicious, report your concerns initially to the dating website.
    • If you have lost money due to an online scam, you can report it to Action Fraud: https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/.

    For further information, please see the related websites section.

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