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FraudSMART your heart against romance scams this Valentine’s

Are you online dating? Are you in love with someone you text every day but never met? Is your love interest asking you to send them money?

Ahead of Valentines Day FraudSMART are urging people to take care when it comes to meeting people online. Online dating is hugely popular and can be a fun way to meet someone, but it is important to know how to spot the warning signs of a romance scam so that you can keep your savings – as well your heart – safe.

Figures released by the Gardaí show that 245 romance fraud victims, mostly women, have come forward to report scams since 2019, each losing an average of €28,500, totaling €7 million.

Fraudsters use online dating sites and apps to gain trust and build up a relationship and emotional connection with their victim. They will often devote months to this process, after which time they will create a scenario in which they urgently need money. In most instances they won’t actually ask for money directly but will use manipulative and emotive language that persuades the victim to willingly transfer money. Examples of the stories scammers spin can include claims they need funds for medical treatment for a family member or expressing a desire to visit and meet in person but they can’t afford the flights.

Watch out for red flags:

  • Conversation on the dating app quickly moves to direct text messages.
  • Despite weeks or even months of communication, the love interest avoids video calls and meeting up with elaborate excuses.
  • The conversations focus on you. You are asked all the questions, but you have little personal knowledge about the other person.
  • An urgent need for money because of an emergency or tragic family story.

FraudSMART your Heart Tips:

  • Be careful what you share on social media and online dating websites. Do not reveal your full name or home address. Protect your identity.
  • Be wary of anyone asking lots of questions about you but not revealing much about themselves.
  • Use a reputable dating site and use their messaging service. Do not move to social media or texting too quickly.
  • Never send money or give your bank details to somebody you have never met, no matter how much you believe and trust them.
  • Do not send money to purchase flights, or VISAs or pay customs fees for them to visit you.
  • Remember individuals can pretend to be anyone they want to be online. You should google an image to see if it comes up on several sites or profiles.
  • Never provide copies of your personal documents such as passports or driving licenses.
  • If you think you have fallen victim, contact your bank immediately, the quicker you act the better chance of recouping any lost funds.


It can be devastating for people who get caught up in these types of scams and victims often feel too embarrassed to report the crime. However, these are sophisticated scam operations, and the fraudsters are very skilled at convincing people. If you suspect you may have been the victim of this type of crime contact your bank and An Garda Síochana straight away. They have experienced teams who will understand and will try to help.


Daniel’s story

Daniel* met a woman online through a dating site. His work involved a lot of travel so finding a connection online eased the loneliness. They were in contact for over a year, texting daily and Daniel became convinced that they were in a relationship and referred to her as his girlfriend. She claimed to be a celebrity singer, who was also travelling a lot, and said it was easier to stick with text messages because of her schedule. As weeks went by Daniel trusted her more and more and was giving her in depth personal information. She would send pictures of herself on tour and at talk shows. After a few months the ‘celebrity’ told Daniel that she had issues with accessing funds due to a divorce she was going through and asked for a number of small payments over the course of a few weeks. Daniel then gave her his IBAN so that she could pay the money back, and the cycle continued as she had more excuses for him to send her money. Daniel soon received a call from his bank enquiring about sums of money received into his account which was later identified as fraudulent funds from an ‘Invoice redirection’ scam. Gardaí became involved and Daniel was informed that he was not in fact communicating with the ‘celebrity’ but was embroiled in an elaborate romance scam.

*The name and some of the details have been changed to protect the identity of the victim.


Help keep your family and friends safe 

Anyone can be a target of this kind of scam and new types of scams and frauds are continually emerging that are increasingly more complex and convincing. Share this alert with your family and friends so that they too can stay safe and encourage them to sign up for the FraudSMART fraud alerts which we issue when a new scam is in circulation.