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Police urge public to be aware of ‘romance fraud’

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LOVE might be in the air around Valentine’s Day, but Dyfed-Powys Police is urging people to be wary of who they meet on dating websites after saving potential victims from sending £52,000 to fraudsters.

The force’s Financial Crime Team has offered advice to people dating online to help stop their heart – and their finances – take a bruising.

Romance fraud is where fraudsters set up fake profiles to form relationships with unsuspecting people looking for a genuine partner on dating websites. They use the site to gain your trust and ask you for money or enough personal information to steal your identity.

Over the past six months, Dyfed-Powys Police has stopped people from being conned out of a total of £52,000 in romance fraud cases through the banking protocol – a scheme that sees bank staff trained in how to spot signs that a customer may be withdrawing cash to give to a scammer.

Since the scheme was set up, the force has been able to save people a total of £156,841 – with 33% of calls taken (or £52,000) connected to romance fraud.

Fraud investigator Dawn Jones said: “The majority of accounts on dating websites are genuine people, but sadly there are fraudsters who might try to contact you by making a fake profile, using a fictional name or taking on the identity of real trusted people, and building what feels like a loving relationship.

“Without wanting to sound cynical, what we’re asking people to bear in mind is that your perfect online partner might not be who they say they are.

“There are certain things fraudsters tend to do, which should set alarm bells ringing – for example they will express strong emotions within a short space of time.  They may ask you to move away from the app or website and use a more personal, private means of contact, such as email, instant messaging, or over the phone. They might even send you gifts and shower you with compliments to make you feel special.

“Once they’re confident that they’ve won your trust, they will pretend to confide in you and tell you about a fictional problem that they need money for – maybe for a sick relative, to pay taxes, or even to pay for flights to come and see you.  Whichever way they chose to ask for money you could end up losing a lot – and the money you send is almost impossible to recover.”

The force has offered advice to anyone using online dating sites:

  • Avoid giving away too many personal details when dating online – revealing your full name, date of birth and home address might leave to your identity being stolen.
  • Never send or receive money, or give away or bank details to someone you’ve only met online, no matter how much you trust them or believe their story.
  • Pick a reputable dating website and use the site’s messaging service. Fraudsters want to quickly switch to social media or texting so there’s no evidence of asking you for money.

If you become a victim of romance fraud, report it immediately to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040, as well as to the dating site where you met, no matter how embarrassing you might think it is.

This could result in recovering your money (although this is unusual), and help others from becoming victims to the same person.

Dial 999 if you or someone else is in immediate danger or at risk of harm.

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Police appeal following Aberystwyth RTC

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POLICE are investigating a road traffic collision which occurred at approximately 6.20pm on Wednesday, December 20, 2017.

A silver MG ZT, which had been reported as stolen, collided with another vehicle in Rhydybont, Aberystwyth.

The occupants of the MG walked away in the direction of Min Y Ddol.

Police would like to speak to the man in the image as he may have information that could assist the police investigation.

Anyone with information that can help officers with their investigation is asked to report it by calling 101. If you are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908.”

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Family pay tribute to Aberporth man

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THE FAMILY of Phillip Rasmussen, from Aberporth, who tragically died in Spain on April 1, have paid tribute to the 47-year-old.

They said: “We are devastated by the loss of Phillip, and he will be dearly missed by us all.

“Phillip was a loving husband to Elissa and father to Rhys, Beci and Dylan.

“He lived life to the full and will be remembered for his energy and passion towards all aspects of life. He was a keen sailor, cyclist and loved to travel.

“He began his professional career as a chartered accountant and spent the last ten years working as Chief Financial Officer for IQE plc, a role which he truly loved and made his own.

“We would like to thank everyone for their support at this difficult time. It has meant so much to the whole family.

“We would now like time to grieve and would ask to be given privacy in which to do so.”

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Big Welsh Walk aims to tackle loneliness and isolation

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THE BIG WELSH WALK takes place in June to promote the benefits of walking groups; reducing loneliness and isolation, as well as improving fitness and general wellbeing.

Starting in Devil’s Bridge, Ceredigion on Saturday (Jun 2) there are four walks to choose from, ranging from 6 to 20 miles. Participants can challenge themselves through the stunning landscapes, highlighting breath taking scenery along the way.

Most of us will experience loneliness at some point in our lives. For many people, especially the older generation, this isn’t a fleeting experience, but one that can define and shatter your life. The need for action is increasingly understood and Ramblers Cymru is working hard to combat this through leading local walking groups.

Within in the UK, research shows that more than 9 million people always or often feel lonely, that around 200,000 older people have not had a conversation with a friend or relative in more than a month and up to 85% of young disabled adults – 18-34 year olds – feel lonely.

With around 20 million adults also failing to meet UK government recommendations for physical activity, walking is the obvious answer to help combat loneliness and isolation whilst also maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Ramblers Cymru is working to change this by encouraging people to join their local walking group.

Local resident of Ceredigion, Dwynwen Belsey, walks with Aberystwyth Ramblers each week. She said: “It’s well-established that walking is good for you, but it also helps people develop social skills, and build confidence too.

“Life has its ups and downs and walking helps because it has a therapeutic effect,” explains Dwynwen. “The difference walking with the group has made to me, is fantastic. I have the confidence to volunteer through leading walks and helping maintain the public footpaths so that more people can enjoy the benefits of walking”.

Director of Ramblers Cymru, Angela Charlton, said: “It’s inspiring to hear about groups like Aberystwyth Ramblers and the fantastic work they are doing locally to improve the health and wellbeing of people in Ceredigion. Loneliness and isolation is becoming a real issue people from all walks of life in Wales are faced with. Our vision in Ramblers Cymru is to work towards combatting this and ensuring we encourage people to use group walking as a way to a healthier lifestyles, mentally and physically”.

You can find out more about the local walks led by Ramblers Cymru by visiting www.ramblers.org.uk/wales and to join the Big Welsh Walk www.ramblers.org.uk/bigwelshwalk

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