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Fake Celebrity Romance Scam:
Police Warning After Woman Loses £5000

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Nottinghamshire Police urge people to be aware of scammers posing as celebrities
on online dating sites.

It has been reported that a woman lost £5000 to a romance scammer pretending to be TV Chef, James Martin, one of several celebrities targeted on dating websites. Singers Gary Barlow and Urs Buhler have also recently been impersonated.

Romance Scams & Catfishing

It is a sad fact that romance scams are on the rise. Many people join dating sites in the hope of finding companionship, friendship, and love; you certainly don’t expect to sign up and be scammed out of your hard-earned money. However, a flattering photograph, well-written bio and instant messaging platform are standard tools of the trade for today’s online scammers, who hide behind genuine-looking daters’ profiles.

In a recent update from Nottinghamshire Police, Detective Sergeant Tara Clapperton, from the force’s fraud prevention team, provided a reminder of the ed flags and tactics used in recent scam cases they have seen:

  • Catfishing’, a term used to describe a type of impersonation scam where someone steals another person’s identity and uses their personal information and photographs to create a fake persona to deceive their victims. TV chef James Martin, Take That’s Gary Barlow and Il Divo singer Urs Buhler have all had their identities used by scammers.
  • Moving conversations away from dating sites to other messaging platforms, like Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp. This means the dating site can no longer monitor the account or spot patterns in a person’s message activity, which might be flagged as suspicious by the customer care team.
  • Requesting intimate photographs, then demanding money and threatening to share the images with the sender’s friends and family if the money is not handed over.
  • Persuading the scam victim to purchase and send gift cards, which are untraceable and easy to sell on or spend.
  • Claiming to work or live abroad, inventing urgent travel problems or medical bills, and requesting money.

Follow Detective Sergeant Clapperton’s sound advice:

“Never send money to people you have never met in person, no matter how much you’ve spoken online.”

With extensive first hand experience of dealing with romance scams, TLW Solicitors’ fraud team have detailed how to protect yourself from becoming the victim of one.

Romance fraud is a type of Authorised Push Payment (APP) fraud, where one person gives their bank permission to transfer money to another person’s account. The sender believes the payment is genuine and authorises it themselves. Once a person realises they have been scammed, their bank can investigate and try to recover the money through the chargeback process. There are time limits for filing a chargeback and the process might not be successful if the recipient:

  • is based overseas
  • is difficult to trace
  • has moved the money to another account, or
  • has disappeared.

Usually, this would end the bank’s dealings with your complaint, and you could still be out of pocket.

Increasingly, decisions by the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) have been published stating that banks have a duty of care to their customers and should do more to protect them and their money from fraud. FOS is an independent, Government-backed dispute resolution service for financial institutions and their customers.

We have a team of experienced APP Fraud specialists who regularly help clients take complaints to their banks and the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Heading up the team is Sarah Spruce. She says:

“Recent FOS decisions have highlighted the banks’ responsibility to carry out better due diligence – monitoring customers’ accounts for unusual behaviour, such as sending payments to overseas recipients or making several small payments in quick succession to a new payee.

“Many victims of romance fraud have told us they couldn’t believe they had fallen for a scam. They are often embarrassed and haven’t told friends or family about what happened. We want to reassure people that there is nothing to be ashamed of, and there are ways to try and get your money back. We are here to help.”

Our team understands the time limits to be followed, the information needed and the claims and appeals processes. We will also deal with any complex legal arguments and defences raised during the claims process. The combination of our experienced team and digital case management systems means that we proactively pursue your claim and aim to get the best possible results.

We offer a free, no-obligation assessment of your case and will decide on whether or not to pursue your claim. If we take on your case, we operate on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis, meaning you do not pay us anything if your refund claim is unsuccessful.

If you think that you, a friend or loved one has been the victim of a romance scam, please contact our specialist team for a confidential, no-obligation conversation.

You can call us on 0800 169 5925, email info@tlwsolicitors.co.uk or complete either the make a claim online or callback forms below.

It is important to get advice as soon as possible as strict time limits can apply.

Minimum case values apply.

Meet Our Team

Meet Sarah, who heads up our experienced Authorised Push Payment Fraud Claims team.

Sarah and her colleagues are on hand to help with your claim.

TLW Solicitors pledge to:

  • Always fight your corner.
  • Explain anything you don't understand.
  • Provide full transparency on our charges.
  • Never ask for any upfront payment.
  • Recover the best compensation we can.
  • Keep your personal information safe.
  • Respond quickly to any queries.