View recent press releases, speeches, and news items published by month.
11/10 5 February 2010
With Valentine's Day approaching, the OFT is warning of common internet dating scams that can leave you heart-broken and out of pocket.
As part of its Scams Awareness month, the OFT is warning people that the increased potential to meet new people online is being used by scammers to gain trust and con people out of their money. Scammers target singles columns and dating websites to search for potential victims. They create fictitious online profiles or send out unsolicited emails or letters, often with fake photographs. Scammers use the trust gained to persuade victims to part with large sums, with some frauds going on for years. This typically involves saying they would like to meet you but are stranded and don't have money to travel or cover visa costs. They may also say that they or a family member require urgent treatment for an illness.
The Serious Organised Crime Agency is working globally to target criminal groups responsible for some of these scams. In one recent case a British national was kidnapped after travelling to West Africa believing they would be met by someone with whom they had established an online friendship.
OFT-managed advice service Consumer Direct offers the following advice to make using internet dating websites safer:
Heather Clayton, Senior Director of the Office of Fair Trading's Consumer group, said:
'The internet is now an established way to meet and connect with new people, but those meeting on dating and other sites need to be on their guard against potential dating scams. All fraud is destructive but dating scammers are particularly ruthless as they abuse the emotional trust and attachments that people invest when looking to meet someone.'
SOCA Deputy Director Sharon Lemon said:
'No-one should fear using the internet to meet people, but criminals will look for opportunities everywhere and the internet is no exception. You wouldn't hand your bank account details or your house keys to someone you met on the street, and using the internet safely just needs the same kind of care. There is plenty of good straightforward advice out there from sites like Get Safe Online. You don't have to become a victim.'
For more information about Scamnesty go to www.consumerdirect.gov.uk/scamnesty where you can send any suspect email or online scams to the online Scamnesty bin.
For more information please contact the team at 3 Monkeys Communications on OFT@3-monkeys.co.uk or call 020 7009 3100. Or Jonathan Marciano at the Office of Fair Trading on email@example.com or call 020 7211 8898.
1. To check who a website is registered to, consumers can search for domain name registrant information using an online search tool, such as www.whois.com and www.nominet.org.uk (for.uk domain names).
2. 'Scamnesty' is an annual awareness campaign run by the Office of Fair Trading for the month of February. It aims to increase consumer awareness of mass market scams and provides consumers with helpful and practical advice on how to avoid being scammed. For more information visit www.consumerdirect.gov.uk/scamnesty.
3. To find out more information, locate your nearest Scamnesty bin or seek advice about a possible scam, contact Consumer Direct visit www.consumerdirect.gov.uk/scamnesty. Consumer Direct is the OFT managed advice service offering information and advice on consumer issues. Consumer Direct is funded by the OFT and delivered in partnership with local authority Trading Standards Services. For information see www.consumerdirect.gov.uk.
Back to: Press releases
08457 22 44 99