- Barclays data1 reveals that the total reported losses to romance scams have increased by 60 per cent in the last six months.
- Over a third (36 per cent) of Brits2 have been targeted by romance scammers, or know someone that has.
- Victims of romance scams lose on average £10,0001, with criminals using the cost of living crisis to invent new tactics.
- Barclays has partnered with Paul Carrick Brunson, relationship counsellor and TV host, to warn those looking for love about the prevalence of romance scams.
13th March 2023: Barclays is urging people to swipe left on scammers, as new data from the bank shows that money lost to romance scams has increased by 60 per cent in the last six months1. This comes as research from the bank reveals that over a third (36 per cent) of Brits have been targeted by romance scammers or know someone who has2.
Romance scams, where someone expresses interest in a romantic relationship with the intention of manipulating an individual into sending them money, cost victims £10,000 on average1. Research from Barclays shows that scammers are using the cost of living crisis to come up with new tactics, with over a quarter (27 per cent) of people admitting they would send money to someone they were dating online to help with bills, food and other essentials2.
People aged 51 to 60 are the most susceptible, with this age group accounting for over a third (35 per cent) of all money lost to romance scams3. However, this is not the only age group that needs to stay vigilant. Despite over half (54 per cent) of 21 to 30 year olds being confident they would not be a victim2, they are twice as likely to fall victim to a scam compared to 51 to 60 year olds3.
Worryingly, research from the bank also reveals that people are ignoring major red flags when dating. Over half (53 per cent) of people would be willing to overlook the person they are speaking to not wanting to meet them in person, a quarter (27 per cent) would overlook someone refusing to video call, and another quarter (26 per cent) would overlook a person sending them website links to learn more about them2.
Paul Carrick Brunson, relationship counsellor and television host, says: “Beyond financial loss, romance scams can have a detrimental impact on the victim’s emotional wellbeing.
“It can be difficult to see the signs from scammers straight away and even more so when you believe you are speaking to someone you have romantically connected with.
“That’s why I’m proud to be working alongside Barclays to raise awareness of romance scams and how to protect yourselves from them.”
Ross Martin, Head of Digital Safety at Barclays, says: “Dating apps and social media can be a great way to meet people, but it’s important to remember that not everyone you speak to will have the best of intentions.
“Scammers can be very manipulative and will play on your emotions to get you to send them money. When they pull at your heartstrings, claiming to need money to pay for food or bills, it can be hard to say no, but you should never feel pressured into doing this.
“Remember, if something doesn’t seem right, always speak to someone you trust – whether that’s a friend, family, or your bank – for a second opinion.”
With Barclays data showing that 77 per cent of all scams take place on tech platforms such as dating apps and social media sites1, Ross shares a list of red flags to look out for when dating online:
- Profile photo: Watch out for profiles with only one or no photo, or glamorous photos showing off a lavish lifestyle. If you can, do a ‘reverse image search’ of their photos to see if they have been taken from somewhere else.
- Quick replies: If someone is replying within seconds of you sending them a message, you might be speaking to a ‘spam bot’ that is trying to lure you in and lead you to another website. Also beware of anyone who quickly suggests switching the conversation to email, or a personal messaging app or website.
- Website links: Some profiles may try to direct you to click on a link to learn more about them. Avoid suspicious links, and never click on a link if you feel unsure.
- Declaring their love early: Scammers may try to declare their love for you after a matter of weeks. Bear in mind that they could be playing on your emotions to manipulate you.
- Refusing to meet in person: If the person you’re speaking to keeps coming up with excuses for why they can’t meet, there’s a strong chance they’re not who they say they are.
- Requests for money: The biggest red flag is if someone starts asking you for money, whether it’s for a perceived emergency, or an investment opportunity. You should always question why someone might be asking you for funds, and always consult a person you trust for a second opinion.
Barclays has teamed up with Paul to host a Q&A on Instagram and help people understand how romance scams take place. The Q&A will be hosted at 2pm on Friday 17th March on Paul’s Instagram (@paulcbrunson) with the public being offered a chance to submit questions to Paul beforehand.
For more information, please visit: https://www.barclays.co.uk/fraud-and-scams/
For further information
Barclays press office: Ismail Jan – firstname.lastname@example.org – 07851 037905
Notes to Editors
1. Losses from romance scams, as reported by unique customers reporting romance scams in the period August 2022 – January 2023, compared to February 2022 – July 2022.
2. Censuswide consumer research study of 2,000 participants, February 2023.
3. Customer scam demographic data for January – March 2022.
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