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February 20, 2013

Untrue Romance

192.com urges background checks to counter growing romance fraud

ID checking website 192.com is urging online daters to background check suitors as fraudsters increasingly use romance to groom and defraud victims.

According to Action Fraud, the UK's fraud reporting authority, reported cases of dating or romance fraud grew by 33% in 2012. A Leicester University study in 2011 found that up to 200,000 people in the UK had been victims of romance fraud and that among those surveyed, one in 50 knew a victim.

The rise of date crime corresponds with online dating. Globally one in five relationships start online. When online profiles can be faked, as was revealed when Facebook disclosed they had up to 83 million faked accounts, and where up to one in 10 online dates can be scams, official data on 192.com can thwart fraudsters who rely on subterfuge. 192.com collates millions of residential and business records from official sources such as the land registry and the edited electoral roll, and these can verify an identity.

Businesswoman Mary Turner Thomson, 47, was defrauded of £198k by her ex-husband, William Jordan who she met online. They were together for six years and had two children before Mary discovered Jordan was already married to another woman for 16 years. Jordan drew Mary into a web of lies, convincing both wives he worked for the intelligence services to explain his absences and extort money. Jordan was jailed in 2006 for bigamy, dishonesty offences, failing to register as a sex offender and illegally possessing a stun gun.

Ms Thomson scoured the edited electoral records on 192.com to trace William Jordan's secret life with his other partners. Mary then wrote an account of her story, along with the stories of several other victims that she found through 192.com. Today, Mary advises daters to use 192.com to background check potential dates.

"A search on 192.com will tell you where someone lives, who they live with and how long they lived there. It shows whether the person you are considering getting into a relationship with is telling the whole truth or not. This is vital information for uncovering a bigamist, exposing hidden families or debt-ridden businesses. It's worth spending ten minutes online, when the alternative could be years of regret," she says.

Dominic Blackburn, product director of 192.com says:

"192.com contains 700 million official public records, giving you a true picture of a business or individual. With 4.5 million business addresses and over 30 million residential addresses in the UK, 192.com allows you to take control of your ID check. We particularly urge ID checking when meeting a stranger online."

Internet psychologist, Graham Jones explains how the internet can make people particularly vulnerable to romance fraud:

"Those who fall victim to the wonderfully plausible deceptions of fraudsters can have self-esteem worries and love the boost the fraudster's lies give us."

"But the real problem is that most of the romantic fraud is online where it is much harder to spot. That's why people who get romantically involved online need to check each other out first and then meet in the "real world" where their subconscious assessment of each other can come into play."

Mary Turner Thomson book 'The Bigamist' is now an international best seller, and her new book 'The Sociopath's Subtext' attempts to explain what a sociopath means by what he says.

"In the end we can all be easily duped by what these people say and do and we must take better control of knowing who and what we are dealing with when entering into a relationship, be that in business or in pleasure," she said.

192.com recommends the following measures to counter romance fraud:

  • Beware relationships started online or via emails, text messages and phone calls.
  • Don't just rely on social media to do a background check. Verify a name, address or workplace against official records on 192.com.
  • Notice if suitors look like a supermodel in the pictures they send, ask you lots of questions but don't say much about themselves, such as where they live and work.
  • Be wary if suitors quickly start calling you by a pet name or soon use endearing terms.
  • Resist the temptation to communicate through instant messaging and texts, rather than through the dating website or chat room where you met.
  • Requests for money made online or in person are dangerous. Fraudsters will present emotive financial requests which may appear urgent and justified. They may also have accomplices to verify financial requests and other lies.
  • Prepare to be manipulated. Fraudsters may admit their scam, but claim to have fallen in love with you in the process. Don't believe them.

What should you do if you've been a victim of dating fraud?

  • Report it to Action Fraud.
  • Break off all contact immediately.
  • Report the fraudster to the website or chat room operator.
  • Do not send any more money.

About 192.com

192.com is the UK's most awarded online directory, helping find people, businesses and places for 10 million users a month. On 192.com, users can search over 700 million records including free directory enquiries, edited electoral roll information, local business listings, interactive mapping, aerial photography and property reports.

For more information contact the 192.com Press Office. Phone: 0207 909 2151