BBC One – Rip Off Britain | #DatingScams | #LoveScams | #RomanceScans

In our programme on 9 October 2023 we featured some of the latest scams, including a new form of hybrid scam which can appear to begin as a romance but soon creeps into other scam territory – including asking for investments into crypto currency or other forms of payment.

With the fraudsters’ tactics constantly evolving, here are some tips from the experts on what to watch out for, and how to avoid falling for them.

Hybrid scams

Cybersecurity expert Adenike Cosgrove from Proofpoint told Gloria about hybrid scams, which start with friendly chat on one platform, such as a dating website, but then move the victim on to other platforms which may be encrypted or fake. These ‘conversational attacks’, also known as ‘pig butchering’ scams, are carried out over periods of weeks or months, building the trust of a victim before the scammer extracts large amounts of cash, before disappearing. There was a 12-fold increase in this kind of scam in 2022.

Adenike says:

• If you’re initially contacted with unsolicited messages, be cautious. You might be direct messaging someone very polite but they’re still a complete stranger.

• Be aware of anyone trying to move your conversations away from a legitimate platform, like a dating app. They could be trying to take you onto a channel that’s encrypted or unauthorised – or even a fake cryptocurrency exchange that they’ve created.

• Someone asking you for money is a big red flag, so log off immediately and report them to the platform you’re using.

More information on this can be found on Proofpoint’s website here.

Crypto-currency scams

A hybrid scam can sometimes direct a victim towards supposed investment in cryptocurrency, like Bitcoin. Cryptocurrency-related scams are on the rise, driven partly by a lack of understanding of the asset, and the scammers’ ability to bamboozle victims.

To avoid falling for a crypto scam:

• Never give anyone access to your computer by installing screen viewer or other software – this can be used to make payments from your bank account without your consent. Banks are often reluctant to refund scam victims who have installed such software and given control of their finances to a stranger.

• Be cautious of opening a new bank account to make payments to a crypto website – many banks have limits on the amount of crypto-currency transactions that can be made, whereas others have far fewer restrictions. Those with fewer restrictions can be abused by scammers, so do your research.

• Don’t trust ads on social media platforms which say a well-known celebrity has endorsed crypto-currency investments. Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis, for example, never promotes any financial products – any advert connecting him to crypto-currency investment is fake, and may be a scam.

• Keep in mind that any website you are shown as evidence that your investment has gone up in value could have been faked by a scammer.

Fraud expert Arun Chauhan told us the Financial Conduct Authority is implementing new rules and guidance about how crypto-currency investment is marketed to UK consumers, to make sure advertisers can demonstrate investors understand exactly what they’re being asked to put their money into.

The FCA warns that investments in crypto can be complex, making it difficult to understand the risks associated with the investment. It says anyone investing in crypto-currency should be prepared to lose all of their money. More information can be found on the Financial Conduct Authority website here.

Other scam advice

The Rip Off Britain website has handy resources for help and advice on scams from our experts, including:

• David McClelland and Gary Rycroft’s printable leaflet on text message scams (January 2023):

• Arun Chauhan’s advice on social media scams (November 2022):

• How to spot a fake emails and texts, with Arun Chauhan (July 2022):

• Simon Calder’s Staycation Scam Watch (May 2022):

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