The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau is continuing to receive reports relating to individuals falling victim to romance scams/mobile phone fraud where individuals are targeted by fraudsters on dating websites and encouraged to call premium rate numbers.
Victims are approached via online dating websites, messenger services and social media sites. The fraudsters will engage via these websites before providing the victim with their telephone number so they can have a verbal conversation.
Unbeknown to the victim these numbers are premium rate numbers all starting with 070. They are designed to look like mobile numbers but they are different and can be more expensive. They act as a forwarding service enabling the suspect to hide their own personal number.
The fraudsters gain the victims trust discussing personal and private issues leading to them believing they are developing a relationship. The victim will often engage in multiple conversations before realising this is a fraud.
These conversations result in large phone bills and the victim only become aware of the fraud when they receive their telephone bill and are liable for the charges.
Fraudsters predominantly target males, with males accounting for 83% of the total number of victims.
What should you do if you’ve been a victim of dating fraud/mobile phone fraud?
- Report it to Action Fraud.
- Break off all contact immediately.
- Report the fraudster to the website or chat room operator.
- Tell your mobile phone provider.
- Inform PhonepayPlus, which regulates premium numbers and has statutory powers to stop mobile phone frauds and fine the offenders.