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'Dating scams' add to 27% increase in fraud


So-called "dating scams" have contributed to a 27% increase in the number of frauds reported, official figures show.

The cons involve criminals who initiate a romance online and then ask for money, citing a variety of emotive reasons.

The racket has developed along with fake online auctions where web-users attempt to buy products online but are never sent their goods.

Some 229,000 frauds were recorded in the last year - up by 27% on the 181,000 of the previous period, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

Of these, online dating scams accounted for 1,212 of the crimes reported, while bogus internet auctions made up around 23,000 of the offences.

The rise in fraud has been partially attributed to a change in the way data is collected.

Victims are now encouraged to report crimes to Action Fraud, which acts as a central point of contact for help with financially-motivated internet crime, rather than visiting a local police station.

John Flatley, of the ONS, said: "The figures are showing that this is a new area of crime that is on the rise.

"It is difficult to determine how much that is due to an increase in the prevalence of crime or an increase in publicity for Action Fraud."