Conmen defrauding people through online dating apps, warns Interpol
International police organisation Interpol has issued a notice to its 194 member countries, including India, saying conmen were defrauding people using online dating apps while asking their users to be sceptical and vigilant about getting into relationships through these applications.
“Interpol’s Financial Crimes unit had received reports from around the world of this scam and is encouraging dating app users to be vigilant, be sceptical, and be safe when entering into online relationships. This has become especially important as people turn to online interactions during the Covid-19 pandemic,” an Interpol statement said.
The Central Bureau of Investigation, which is the nodal agency of Interpol in India, will alert the states about the International police organisation’s Purple Notice for awareness about the online dating scam. A Purple Notice is issued to seek or provide information on modus operandi, objects, devices, and concealment methods criminals use.
Interpol said the threat involves taking advantage of people’s vulnerabilities as they look for potential matches, and luring them into a sophisticated fraud scheme. “In the initial stages, an artificial romance is established via a dating app. Once communication becomes regular and a certain level of trust is established, criminals share investment tips with their victims and encourage them to join a scheme. Victims download a trading app and open an account, buy various financial products and work their way up a so-called investment chain, all under the watchful eye of their new ‘friend’.” The statement said they are made to believe they can reach Gold or VIP status. “As is often the case with such fraud schemes, everything is made to look legitimate. Screenshots are provided, domain names are eerily similar to real websites, and customer service agents pretend to help victims choose the right products. One day, however, all contact stops, and victims are locked out of the account. They’re left confused, hurt, and worried that they’ll never see their money again.”
Interpol has also provided tips to ensure safe online dating.
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