A new guide has been launched by police to help people spot a romance fraudster.

Romance fraud happens when the victim thinks they have met the perfect partner through an online dating website or app, but the other person is using a fake profile to form a relationship with them.

They use the site to gain the victim’s trust and ask them for money or enough personal information to steal their identity.

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Thames Valley Police has developed a new e-booklet alongside Dr Elisabeth Carter, senior lecturer in criminology and forensic linguist at the University of Roehampton, which shows the clever tactics used by romance fraudsters with a view to empowering the knowledge of communities.

A spokesman said: “Romance fraudsters are masters of manipulation and will go to great lengths to create a false reality in which an individual feels that they are making reasonable and rational decisions.

“The challenge for many family and friends of romance fraud victims is being able to disrupt the false reality created to enable the victim to see the situation for what it really is – a fraud.”

The booklet dispels the myths of shame and embarrassment often associated with the crime by highlighting the link to coercive control.

Detective Inspector Duncan Wynn of Thames Valley Police’s Economic Crime Unit said: “Romance fraud can have a catastrophic impact, from the emotional devastation to the financial losses.

“We have worked with Dr Carter, a forensic linguistics and criminology expert, to raise awareness of the manipulative tactics that romance fraudsters use.

“It’s so important that if you feel you have fallen victim to a romance fraudster that you seek help by reaching out to Action Fraud or Victims First.

“If you live outside of the Thames Valley, you can contact Victim Support.”

Dr Carter said: ““Romance fraudsters are masters of disguise and deception, and this publication shines a light on the tactics they can use, so you can keep yourself and your loved ones safe.

“It provides important information about the range of different ways fraudsters will attempt to groom, manipulate, and persuade individuals into a position where they feel compelled to send money.”

To see the guide, click here.