Women in their 50s and men in their 20s are the biggest victims of online dating fraud
Tech giants are expected to face fines when their platforms are used by crooks, the security minister has warned, as he takes action to curb the explosion of fraud in the pandemic.
Damian Hinds has revealed that he finds romance fraud – the growing phenomenon in which criminals prey on love-seekers – “particularly sickening”, speaking to the Mail on Sunday in his first newspaper interview since. he took up his post in August.
“The way this is perpetrated and done on a large scale, it is a horrible crime,” Mr. Hinds said.
“It’s very cynical, it plays on our emotions as human beings.
AT RISK: Women are most at risk despite safe sites like this
“The thought of having been the victim of this kind of deception – it’s just a horrible thing to even contemplate.”
The victims are typically women – 60% of cases – and mostly in their 50s, Mr Hinds says.
Male victims generally fall into two age groups – in their fifties or twenties, he says, adding: “It’s probably a different kind of contact that’s made.”
The former education secretary also points out that many 30-year-olds fall prey to all manner of scams because they spend so much time online, challenging the stereotype that older people are usually the more targeted.
Mr Hinds also revealed that his own family had become targets of online fraudsters as he tried to sell second-hand bridesmaid dresses on Gumtree, the free classifieds site.
After his two daughters were bridesmaids about a year ago, Mr Hinds and his wife Jacqui decided to sell their dresses.
A woman from South Africa offered to buy them, but then started asking for more photographs.
Mr Hinds, 51, recalls: “And then, of course, it turned out,” Great, I would like to buy them, but I can’t organize the courier myself, can you just send me £ 30 to £ 40 to this Account? “
Male victims generally fall into two age groups – in their fifties and twenties, Security Minister Damian Hinds said, adding: “It’s probably a different kind of contact that is made.”
“At the time, it didn’t seem right. We said we didn’t want to continue.
But the potential buyer has resumed emailing, accusing the couple of breaking a contract and “getting really, really aggressive,” Hinds said.
“No money was wasted. but it was a deeply unpleasant experience.
The MP for East Hampshire reported it to Action Fraud, the struggling agency which is now being replaced after numerous complaints about its effectiveness.
Nevertheless. Mr. Hinds is clear that the fight against fraud is not just a job for the police. “We will not try to get out of the problem,” he said.
He backed calls to high tech companies used by scammers.
“At the end of the day, there has to be a penalty, right? There has to be something you have to lose, ”the minister said, adding,“ I want tech companies to do more.
There is an imbalance that needs to be corrected, he explains. Banks, whose customers are targeted by criminals, suffer losses from fraud every day. Online businesses are not.
The former education secretary also points out that large numbers of 30-year-olds fall prey to all kinds of scams because they spend so much time online, challenging the stereotype that older people are generally the most targeted.
“The banks have done a lot to try to improve all of our defenses against fraud.
“We need to make sure everyone has the same incentives to minimize and eradicate fraud.”
Fraud increased 24% during the pandemic.
In this summer alone, scammers have targeted nearly 45 million people with fraudulent text messages and calls. He mimics an explosion with his hands to describe the fraud boom.
Mr Hinds, whose predecessor James Brokenshire died of cancer this month, has a record that includes the fight against terrorism, organized crime, hostile state activity and even maritime security – as well as the fraud.
He recently chaired the first meeting of a new working group on fraud launched by Priti Patel, which he will lead.
It brought together banks, accountants and telecommunications companies with the aim of increasing coordination.
Mr. Hinds wants to bring tech companies to the table soon.
Plans are underway for a national fraud awareness campaign. Mr. Hinds wants a simple message that can be applied to combat the many types of fraud.
Tech giants face fines when their platforms are used by crooks, the security minister has warned, as he takes action to curb the explosion of fraud in the pandemic
He wants it to be “distilled into reusable messages” that “work in different contexts and settings”. He says there is no point in focusing on raising awareness about just one type of scam.
“Guess what, it goes, and another pops up,” says Mr. Hinds.
A week later, Mr Hinds said he was “devastated” by the murder of fellow Conservative MP Sir David Amess.
“Obviously, it is right in the wake of a security review,” he said, adding: “The local police have been in contact with all my colleagues to discuss the individual arrangements.”
Mr Hinds says there is a “legitimate debate” over maintaining anonymity online, but stresses that it “plays important positive roles”, citing victims of domestic violence and people living under regimes oppressive, as well as the use it served during the Hong Kong protests and the Arab Spring.
He also points out that there are existing powers to search and bring people to justice in cases of anonymous abuse and illegality.
“It’s a good thing we’re having a debate,” he said.