Dating app users beware – love may be blind, but you should not be when it comes to crime.
The International Criminal Police Organisation (INTERPOL) issued a Purple Notice to provide information to its 194 member countries about fraudsters scamming potential victims through matching in dating apps.
In an advisory dated 19 January 2021, INTERPOL detailed how fraudsters get people to trust them and get away with their money.
A prospective fraudster would first establish an “artificial romance” through being matched in a dating app. Once communication becomes regular and a bond of trust is created, the fraudster would then slowly introduce investment tips to the victim and encourage them to join a scheme.
If successful, victims will be asked to download a trading app, open an account and buy financial products to climb the “investment chain” under the fraudster’s supervision.
Victims might have a hard time distinguishing which websites or screenshots are real during this phase. There will even be customer service agents who pretend to help victims choose the right products.
After some time, the victim will be locked out of their trading app account and all contact from the fraudster will stop.
INTERPOL advised dating app users to always be vigilant when going into online relationships. They also stated to never share any personal or financial information with people you meet online.
They also mentioned to always be sceptical when introduced to online investments with promises of fast returns and to think twice before transferring any amount of money, regardless of how sincere they appear to be.
People are also advised to report to local authorities should they realise they are a victim of fraud.
INTERPOL assured fraud victims that there is still a way to recover money sent to fraudsters.
The first step is to always report the crime to local authorities and call your bank to request a recall of fraudulent transactions, INTERPOL’s Financial Crimes Coordinator, Tomonobu Kaya, said.
If you can identify the fraudster’s bank, Tomonobu Kaya advised that it is worth contacting their bank directly. There are free online tools that can locate the beneficiary bank based on the account number and the bank code.
Written by John Paul Joaquin