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Would your Valentine walk 500 miles…?

Posted 07/02/18

Love may be in the air, but while you’re doe-eyed over a new Valentine, something more sinister may be at work here.

Around 200,000 people reportedly fell victim to a romance scam in the UK last year, according to figures from Norfolk Trading Standards. Valentine’s Day presents a perfect opportunity for criminals to make easy money, as they target lonely and vulnerable individuals with ever-inventive scamming techniques.

Make sure you’re aware of the risks this Valentine’s day, and prepare for any scams that may come your way with CTSIs quick guide (below). For the music lovers among you, here are the lyrics to our very own version of the love song by the Proclaimers’ “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)”:

When your flowers, when they turn up at your door
In such a state, they’ll leave you wanting more
When you go out, to dinner, you’re surprised
That cheap meal deal was not as cheap as advertised
If a catfish, lies to you ‘bout who they are
You will be sendin’ money near and far
And if you open, lovely e-Card ransomware
Computers’ viruses leave you in despair

I won’t walk 500 miles
And I won’t walk 500 more
I’ll just be the man who pretends to love you
And scam you at your door

So let me tell you, yes I’ll give you some advice
Don’t let emotions cloud your judgement, do think twice
when online dating, while sharing ask ‘do they need to know’
Don’t pass on every penny, it’s your dough
When you enter, your card details online
Make sure you see that padlock everytime
Check the small print, read the Ts & Cs
Make sure you’re not sucked in to extra fees

I won’t walk 500 miles
And I won’t walk 500 more
I’ll just be the man who pretends to love you
And scam you at your door

The Romance Scam: Con artists actively use dating websites to find their victims - stalking online singles hangouts for a lonely person that they can manipulate into sending cash or romantic gifts, often until the victim is broke.

The Secret Admirer: A parcel arrives from a secret admirer, but the delivery driver needs to scan your credit card to prove your identity. Always be wary when someone asks for personal details at the door, and never give over your card details.

Ransomware e-Cards: Victims receive a Valentine’s e-Card or a link from a flirty messenger bot. When the link is opened, your computer is flooded with viruses and dangerous software, designed to steal your identity and personal information. Always be wary when clicking links in unknown emails.

Emotions run high this time of year, but you shouldn’t let them cloud your judgement. Be rational and have your wits about you. Stop and think; exercising a little caution can save you months of heartache down the line. For help and advice on avoiding scams, visit 'Friends Against Scams'. If you think you’ve fallen victim to a scam, please call the Consumer Helpline on 03454 040506.

Stay safe this Valentine’s Day.

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