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Victims lose £1,400 to romance fraud in Suffolk with an 8 per cent increase nationally over the past year

Reports of romance fraud have increased by over 8 per cent nationally in the last year, with £1,400 lost in Suffolk and 121 reports.

In the last year, the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB), received 8,792 reports of romance fraud amounting to losses of more than £94.7 million.

The average loss per person was £10,774 and there has been an 8.4 per cent national increase on the previous 12-month figures - up from 8,110.

Reports of romance fraud have increased by over 8 per cent nationally in the last year. Picture: iStock
Reports of romance fraud have increased by over 8 per cent nationally in the last year. Picture: iStock

Romance fraud is when people are defrauded into sending money to criminals who go to great lengths to gain their trust and convince them that they are in a genuine relationship.

Victims often suffer significant financial losses, but also face the psychological and emotional impact of losing a partner and support system after being manipulated and deceived.

Detective Superintendent Oliver Little, from the City of London Police, said: “Romance fraud continues to be one of the most common types of fraud that is reported and it is shocking to see an increase of nearly 10 per cent in the number of reports made in the last year.

“Despite this increase, we know romance fraud is a heavily underreported crime so it is likely to be significantly more widespread. We encourage everyone to come forward if they think they could be a victim.

“There is no shame in telling your story, as it is through this sharing of intelligence that can really help us learn about the tactics used and, ultimately, catch those responsible.

“Your report may be the final piece in the puzzle, as often these callous criminals will target more than one person.”

For almost a third of those targeted, fraudsters spent more than a year using various tactics to build trust and companionship.

This long-term form of coercion is then used to engineer scenarios that pressure victims into handing over money.

This could include paying for travel, convincing the victim to pay for an item such as a mobile phone, and, in some cases, taking out loans or making investments on their behalf.

Of the reports made 45 per cent of approaches were via online dating sites, 41 per cent were made by social media and 12 per cent via communications platforms.

Increasingly criminals approach targets on social media and communications platforms rather than dating sites, as such approaches are less expected.

Some reporting also suggests that criminals are using cold outreach methods, for example ‘wrong number’ messages and hacked social media accounts, to approach targets.

There is a fairly equal split between male and female victims (42 per cent and 58 per cent respectively) and all age groups are affected.