The booming £12billion online dating market is proving rich fodder for fraudsters who regularly trawl websites to hoodwink thousands of victims out of millions of pounds every year.A dating fraud campaign launched today aims to stamp out these ‘romance scams’ – where dates turn out to be nothing more than fraudsters who destroy people’s lives both financially and emotionally.The consumer group made the findings following a Freedom of Information Act request for thousands of reports made to Action Fraud over a three-year period during 2014, 20.Its analysis, which covered England and Wales, identified Norfolk as a hotspot for dating fraud, with 1.6 reports per 10,000 people in the county, compared with the general average of 1.1.A spokesman for the City of London Police warns: ‘The numbers we see are just the tip of the iceberg as people often do not report cases because they feel stupid for being deceived.’The campaign hopes to prevent the heartache and financial loss suffered by people such as David, who told The Mail on Sunday about being defrauded of his life savings in a dating scam.The warehouse worker is still piecing his life and finances back together three years on.
The phrase lonely hearts killer, sometimes also want-ad killer or matrimonial bureau murderer, is a journalistic term of art that refers to a person who commits murder by contacting a victim who has either posted advertisements to or answered advertisements via newspaper classified ads and personal or lonely hearts club ads.
This type of scam usually targets lonely older men who are willing to suspend their disbelief that some gorgeous young blonde Russian girl has fallen for them.
However, older women are targeted too, often by West African criminal gangs.
The actual motivations of these criminals are varied.
By definition, a killing will have taken place in order for the suspected, accused, or convicted perpetrator to be dubbed a want-ad or lonely hearts club killer.