O ye of little faith (and me for that matter). Just when I thought Valentine’s was passing me by for yet another year, I managed to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat when up popped a Tinder message (yes, even I have succumbed) from someone who looked a) relatively normal and was not b) married (been there done that) c) a psycho (ditto) d) a stalker (yep) or e) 20 years older than his pic (of course).
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Daniel…well, “Desperate Dan” to be more precise. Now, that’s not saying he’s desperate to be in a relationship; it’s because we both share a love of COW PIE and he’s always on the side of the underdog. And, just like the Dandy character, he’s got big strong hands, a square jaw, horny stubble, plenty of tatts, a few piercings and a huge collection of red and black check shirts.
Admittedly, it’s still early days, but it’s been a promising start so far. Even though he’s a bit of a Southern Softie, he’s hard in all the right places and hasn’t asked me for any money yet. I think that, finally, I might have actually cracked this online dating malarkey.
It seems the same cannot be said for the rest of the sisterhood, however. If trade association UK Finance is right, one in five of us girls who use online dating services has been asked for or given money to someone they met over the Internet.
The all-important data (well, this does have to have at least something to do with our readership, you know) shows that a whopping £7.9m was lost to romance scams in the first half of 2019, an increase of 50% on the previous year.
Apparently, classic hallmarks of romance fraud include criminals asking many personal questions about their victim and making over-the-top declarations of love within a short space of time (sloppy). Often, fraudsters will invent a sob story for why they need some cash urgently, perhaps claiming their money has been stolen or that someone has fallen ill (a likely story). They may come up with excuses for why they cannot meet up in person and may also try to dissuade victims from discussing matters with friends and family (dodgy).
They may also use fake pictures of actors or models to attract their victims – so it may be worth carrying out an online image search to see if the photo has been stolen from elsewhere (especially if he looks like Brad Pitt).
UK Finance managing director of economic crime Katy Worobec, who has obviously never even seen an online dating site, let alone signed up to one, said: “Romance scams are both emotionally and financially damaging for victims. The popularity of online dating services has made it easier for criminals to target victims, so we urge everyone to be cautious around Valentine’s. Although banks are always looking out for suspicious activity, customers must be on their guard and protect themselves too.
“Always be wary of requests for money from someone you’ve never met in person. If you think you’ve been the victim of a romance scam, contact your bank immediately.”
C’mon girls, surely you can’t be that desperate?