UK Police Officer Gives Advice on How to Date Online Safely

Durham Police Officer Tom Murray specialises in cyber-crime and fraud prevention and protection.

According to Action Fraud U.K, almost 64% of 2016 romance scams were originated on dating websites.

Tom Murray has given some words of wisdom and advice to Buzz Bournemouth on how to date online safely.

Here is what he said:

What not to do online

“People need to be more aware of what they are sharing online. Even a photograph they send can be captured and shared, and used by someone else to create another fake profile” he told me. “Once things are shared, there’s no way to control where it goes”.

“When it comes to dating websites, the free ones don’t offer any type of barrier to stop fraudsters getting in and making fake profiles. Their information isn’t processed or reviewed in order to join. Whereas sites you pay for, because you have to give personal information, allow for people to be processed through operating systems that fish out potential scammers or red flags”.

“Revealing too much personal information online such as your date of birth, full name and address. They are all things that give away your identity. Scammers can take this, and scam you by pretending to be you, or use it against you and scam you directly”.

How to spot a scammer

  • They want to communicate off of the dating website very quickly e.g. via text or instant messaging
  • They ask a lot of questions about you but don’t tell them much about themselves
  • Their pictures are a little too perfect, like a catalogue model, or an actor
  • They avoid answering basic questions like what they do for work, where they live etc.

How to report fraud and scammers

  • Block and report them on the website/app you met them on
  • Report fraud to the police and refrain from giving out any more personal information

Murray added: “One thing I would encourage people to do is talk about fraud in the real world with people” he said. “If you’re a victim, there’s no shame or embarrassment, and letting other people hear your story could make them realise they too have been a victim. Discussing it removes the stigma surrounding it.”

Organisations such as Action FraudVictim Support and Scam Survivors are available to offer any support or advice victims may need.

Read more here.