Police are warning the public, especially those actively looking for love online, not to fall victims to unscrupulous imposters who are after money while pretending they are interested in a romantic relationship.
On Sunday, Cyprus police posted on Twitter some information and best practices to help people who visit dating websites to identify signs of internet fraud and stay away from bad romance.
Some of the advice offered by cops included telling internet users to be very careful on sharing any private information online, never rush into responding to questions, and refrain from asking back questions without first checking the profiles of people on the other end.
Bad grammar, no webcams, big telltale signs
The information included references to suspects using “bad grammar” and excuses for not using a live camera due to “webcam glitches,” with police saying these are big tell-tale signs that a fraudster is not interested in a real romantic relationship.
Cops also remind people not to share material online which later could be used as blackmail. Recently, nude photos and videos including film depicting sexual acts were used to blackmail individuals into paying ransom or risk public humiliation.
Cops remind people that laundering money to help someone out is a criminal offence and they could end up behind bars
Another tip also reminded interest users to notify friends and family before stepping out into the real world to meet an online acquaintance for the first time.
Requests or mere mentions of money transfers under any circumstances should alert internet users immediately according to police, who say people should refrain from wiring any money in advance. In a recent scam, a retired teacher in Paphos was swindled out of €117,000 in a Spanish prisoner-type scam.
They also reminded people that laundering money to help out someone else is a criminal offence and they could end up behind bars.
In case people fall victims to romantic scams, police offer the following tips.
“Don’t feel embarrassed. Stop having any type of contact, and if at all possible, save the communication history such as chat messages,” police said.
They go on to say that people should then file a report with police and point to the webpage where the suspected fraudster initiated the first encounter online.
“If you have provided any of your bank information, contact your banking institution,” police reminded the public.