Dutch victims of online dating fraud lost a combined total of €3.74 million in 2019, according to Fraudehelpdesk. This has more than doubled in the last two years, rising by €2.09 million since 2017.
Fraudehelpdesk, an organisation set up to help the Dutch population report cases to the proper authorities, received 639 complaints of dating fraud in 2019, 259 of which were from actual victims. The average victim lost more than €14,400.
However, the actual figure though is likely to be higher because many romance fraud cases go unreported as people are too ashamed to come forward.
According to the helpline, those over the age of 45 are particularly susceptible, with scammers often going after those who are divorced or widowed.
Fraudsters typically claim to be British or American expats who have been posted abroad, and ask for money to be posted into a foreign bank account.
Most of those who have been the victims are unable to reclaim lost money as scammers are based abroad and cannot be traced.
Fraudehelpdesk spokeswoman Tanya Wijngaarde said: “Criminals invest months, sometimes years making contact with their victims. They present themselves as the ideal man or woman.
“They send nice messages every day and sometimes even flowers. After a while they say they need money temporarily.”
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