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Garda warning over romance scams

A CLARE woman parted with a “substantial” sum of money after falling for a fraudster, sparking local gardaí to warn the public to be on the look out for potential ‘romance scams’ while looking for love.
It has emerged that the woman met a man purporting to be a German engineer living in Galway on an online dating site. The relationship developed and they began privately messaging each other. The man told her he was involved in a project for work and needed money for materials which he would repay, however it emerged that this was a scam.
Clare Crime Prevention Officer Sergeant Triona Brooks explains, “Between September and October this year a lady developed an online relationship with a man who said he was a German engineer living in Galway – the relationship started on a dating site and progressed to What’s App messages. He was very persuasive and told the lady that he was involved in a project abroad and asked for money for materials and that he would later repay her. Unfortunately this lady parted with a substantial amount of money and has now realised that this was a romance fraud.”
Sgt Brooks has outlined four common signs of a romance scammer, urging people to be aware. These are: 1. He/she professes their love quickly without actually meeting you. Asks a lot of personal questions about you but avoids questions about themselves; 2. Claims to need money for emergencies; 3. Lures you off the dating site – communicating by text / What’s App; 4. Plans to visit you but can’t because of an emergency or looks for money to travel to meet you.
She advises, “Trust your instincts – if you think something feels wrong it probably is. Do not post personal information such as phone numbers on dating sites.” She adds that people should only use authentic dating websites and never send money or give credit card or online account details to anyone you don’t know and trust.
“Wait until you feel comfortable with an individual before revealing your phone number, place of work or address. Always be mindful of what you post on the internet. It’s there for everybody to see and not just your friends. Beware if there are requests for inappropriate photos. These could be used for the purposes of blackmail at a later stage.”
She concluded, “If you think you have been scammed stop communication immediately, contact your bank if you have sent money and don’t be afraid to report it to the Gardaí – you will be treated sensitively and with total confidentiality.”

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