Scam in Focus -Romance Scams
Romance Scams. 
What is a romance scam?  It is when someone uses an online dating site to develop a relationship with someone for the express purpose of extracting money from them.  
How does someone become a victim? The scam is run over a long period of time, forging a relationship, gaining trust, until they feel the victim is sufficiently enamoured with the scammer to send money when it is asked for. 
Signs: – A friend or family member may be involved are they exhibiting secretive behaviour, making excuses why they haven’t met in person, Sudden and strong attachment to someone they haven’t met, and have only just started talking to.  These are some of the things to look out for.
Remember, these people are professional relationship builders.  They will make you feel special and say all the right things because that is how they gain your trust and build the relationship with you. 
How to protect yourself: – Alarm bells should ring If- 
You like the person and they ask you to chat off the site.   
You attempt to arrange to meet, but they keep making excuses why they can’t.  They will usually be out of the country for some reason, and it will all sound very plausible.    
If they ask for money or any personal documentation, then that is a sure sign the person is not on the dating site genuinely. 
If you find yourself getting really defensive about questions from loved ones and friends.  If they are concerned there is probably a legitimate reason, especially.   
Conduct a reverse image search on one of the search engines. If the search engine returns an image like the one seen on the dating profile, do a bit more research around the picture.  It could be a photograph from a company website.   
“Why would someone wait this long to scam me”.  The longer the scam goes on the more you will get attached to the person, the more money you are likely to spend.  Remember that the sums sent from a single person have been £30,000.  This is a good yearly wage, and  this is multiplied by the number of people they are scamming, they can scam several people at the same time. 
Examples of the type of job they will have: – Remember, they will be working out of the country so they may be on an oil rig, be a doctor working abroad, or they could be in the military.  They need to be out of the country as a reason why they can’t meet you, and then when they ask for money, for example, they need money for a flight home, or to pay medical fees, or they have lost their credit cards, it will all sound plausible.  
Payments: – Credit cards, banks and Paypal all have ways of protecting their customers, and transactions can be reversed. So, you will be asked to send money via ways where the receiver can remain anonymous and the transfer is not reversable. If you haven’t heard of their way they are asking you to send money, or it isn’t something you have done before, then it is another red flag. 
At the end of the day this is a job to these people.  So another tell tale sign is they only chat with you their equivalent of 9-5, don’t forget they live all over the world in different time zones, so it may look like they are chatting when they get home from work, but in reality they are in a different time zone.  English may not be their first language so if they are saying they are from Wales, and their English isn’t good, then that is another flag that something may be wrong. 

Partner in the spotlight – Nat West
This months partner in focus, we look at Nat West and how they are working through these difficult times.
The role of a Customer Support Specialist at NatWest is primarily based in the community so our local Community Banker Bernadette Merry has had to adapt her way of working during the coronavirus restrictions. However she is still very much able to support you and the wider community at this time.
Nat west

Bernadette now offers workshops on Fraud & Scams and Digital Safety via Zoom. This is available to any community group or charity – they don’t need to be a customer of NatWest.
Another valuable offer from the Customer Support Specialist is to offer support and coaching for customers who wish to register for and use NatWest’s Online Banking services, mobile app and video banking which will help them to do most of the things they’d usually do in branch without having to leave their homes.
Two new dedicated customer support lines have also been put in place and the links below provide more information about how they can help.
Over 70’s and extended isolation  line – 0800 051 4176 (Relay UK 18001 0800 051 4176)
NHS Workers line – 0800 046 2418 (Relay UK 18001 0800 046 2418)
If you would like to contact the Customer Support Specialist for your area, please contact Bernadette Merry