With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, love is definitely in the air! But unfortunately, this time of year is also prime time for romance fraud. Everyone deserves to find true love, not get tricked by a scammer. Here are some tips to spot and avoid romance fraud this month:

Be wary of someone who declares love too quickly – Real relationships take time to build. If an online match professes their love before you’ve even met, it could be a red flag. Fraudsters often claim to be military members, traveling or working abroad, widowed, or otherwise unable to meet in person.

Look out for requests for money – Never send money, gift cards, or banking/personal details to someone you haven’t met in person, no matter their excuse. Fraudsters are happy to wait months before even asking for money. This normally involves an urgent situation or emergency such as a call from a Doctor stating that the person you have fallen in love with has been in an accident and needs money for an operation.

Do a reverse image search – Scammers often steal photos from other sites to create fake profiles. You can do a reverse image search using Google to see if the photos are stolen from somewhere else.

Video chat before meeting in person – Ask to video chat so you can verify their identity. If they make excuses, it’s probably a scammer avoiding showing their real face. However also beware as AI can now create lifelike images and videos of people that can talk and interact with you.

Talk to your friends and family – Don’t keep an online relationship secret. Discuss it with people you trust to get another perspective. They may spot red flags you’re missing. Visit the website LOVESAID where you can get valuable help, advice and support.

Look out for requests for money – Never send money, gift cards, or banking/personal details to someone you haven’t met in person, no matter their excuse. Fraudsters are happy to wait months before even asking for money. This normally involves an urgent situation or emergency such as a call from a Doctor stating that the person you have fallen in love with has been in an accident and needs money for an operation.

It is important to understand that the fraudsters are skilled at their job using tactics akin to domestic abuse. Isolated from friends and family the victim’s only crime is giving their all to someone that they believe is genuine. It is very important that people understand that men, women and the LGBTQ+ community all ages and life skills are targeted. Nobody in a Romance fraud is stupid or gullible as they have been coerced and controlled by master criminals. It is common for victims to feel ashamed but it is important that victim’s report to Action Fraud. Stay alert this Valentine’s season, and remember that a genuine connection takes time to build. Don’t let a anyone rush you into anything before you’re ready! Wishing you safe, happy, and healthy relationships in 2024