The pilot sees the two forces sharing intelligence about romance scammers with Scamalytics as part of the DateSafe Group.
Scamalytics provide a mechanism for dating services to check their users against romance scammers identified by the police. The service is free, and dating services are encouraged to take it up, not least to demonstrate to the police that the industry is taking the issue seriously.
Dating services within the Scamalytics network have the police checks activated automatically.
Scamalytics CTO Dan Winchester commented: “There is a growing interest from the police in preventing romance fraud, and sharing data on known scammers is a proven way to disrupt those scammers. The police data is high quality, and allows us to flag a scammer with high certainty.”
Bernadette Lawrie BEM, Financial Abuse Safeguarding Officer for Sussex and Surrey Police added: “Romance fraud accounts for 10% of all vulnerable victim fraud reports across our counties and is one of the most personally devastating crimes we see. Often the lasting impact it has on victims and their families going far beyond the financial loss.”
“Victims are targeted and exploited when they are often at their most vulnerable, with criminals using complex tactics and deceitful tales that lure the victims into parting with such huge sums of money. One of the most difficult conversations we have is telling a victim that not only will they not see their money come back but that the person they believe they are in a relationship with and are looking forward to a future with, is in fact a criminal posing under a false identity.”
The Online Dating Association – the industry’s trade body – is part of the DateSafe Group and helps provide a bridge between the police and the dating industry. George Kidd of the Online Dating Association encouraged dating services to take up the data sharing opportunity: “We welcome the initiative between Scamalytics and Sussex and Surrey Police. We strongly encourage all dating services to use the free service being offered. Dating services work hard to keep scammers away from services, but there is always more that can be done to show scammers that there is no place for them in our industry.”
“We very much hope that in the future the intelligence sharing will be UK wide.”
The pilot builds on the existing partnership between Scamalytics and Action Fraud. A spokesperson from Action Fraud encouraged victims to report dating fraud incidents to Action Fraud: “As cases of romance fraud increase each year, so too does the cost to victims, both emotionally and financially. The emotional damage of falling victim to romance fraud can often be far more difficult to come to terms with. Together with our DateSafe partners, we are urging people to spot the signs of romance fraud and ‘Date Safe’, if you think you have fallen victim, please report it to Action Fraud.”
If your dating service would like free access to the police data, please contact Nick Tsinonis at Scamalytics: firstname.lastname@example.org