Over 200,000 people in Britain may have fallen victims to online romance scams, a recent research work says. In the online romance scam, criminals set up fake identities using stolen photographs (often of models or army officers) and pretend to develop a romantic relationship with their victim. This is often done using online dating sites and social networking sites. At some point during the relationship they pretend to be in urgent need of money and ask for help. Many victims have been persuaded to part with large sums of money before their suspicions are aroused.
Researchers found that 52 per cent of people surveyed online had heard of the online romance scam when it was explained to them, and that one in every 50 online adults (2 per cent) know someone personally who had fallen victim to it, University of Leicester which led the research said. This confirms the belief held by law enforcement agencies that this type of crime is often not reported by those affected, in many cases due to embarrassment at having been duped, or through a continuing hope that there will eventually be a genuine romance, it said. The study aimed to investigate the prevalence of victims in Britain. Investigations by Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) reports that victims of online romance scams have experienced financial losses upto 240,000 pounds. They also suffer a bereavement from the loss of a relationship they believed to be genuine.