How Banks Can Safeguard Customers From Romance Fraud | #DatingScams | #LoveScams | #RomanceScans

In today’s era of digital romance, the quest for love has never been easier. However, this convenience comes with a hidden peril – romance scams. Thousands fall victim to romance scams each year, posing a pressing challenge for our industry to address.

How did we get to this alarming situation? Online dating, once stigmatized, has evolved into a primary conduit for courtship. According to Match, one in four people met their recent first date via apps or websites, surpassing those introduced by a friend.

While the majority of adults report positive experiences, a darker side looms large. Swiping and ghosting may take an emotional toll, but romance scams – in which people are duped into sending money to fraudsters who go to great lengths to gain their trust – can result in substantial financial and emotional losses.

What’s more, romance scams are becoming increasingly common. McAfee reports that at least 31% of Americans have encountered romance scammers. In the UK, the victim count increased by 22% last year alone. According to Lloyds Banking Group, the average loss to romance scams in 2023 stood at an eye-watering £6,937 ($8,812) per incident, leaving many victims unable to recover their losses.

How Romance Scammers Operate

Romance scammers create fake identities to forge emotional bonds with their victims through social media and dating apps. They employ tactics such as fake photos, fabricated stories, and showering targets with affection and attention to cultivate relationships. The scammers often dodge in-person meetings or video calls, citing reasons like work commitments or charitable efforts.

Over time, the scammers gain the trust of their victims and eventually begin soliciting money, starting with small amounts and gradually escalating their demands. Requests vary from family emergencies, medical bills, or travel expenses to go and “meet” their victim. The scammers exploit the emotional attachment they have cultivated, leaving their victims both emotionally and financially drained.

Statistics reveal that men are slightly more likely to fall victim to romance scams, comprising 52% of cases in 2023. However, female victims report higher average losses, with women falling prey to an average of £9,083 ($11,583) in loss, compared to £5,145 ($6,535) for men. Lloyds research notes individuals aged 55-64 as the most susceptible group, with those aged 65-74 losing the highest amount of money, averaging £13,123 ($16,670) per victim.

Why Banks are at the Forefront of Romance Scams

Victims of romance scams, like all fraud, are not culpable, leaving victims feeling ashamed and reluctant to seek support. Fraudsters are experienced professionals and experts in creating highly validating narratives.

Banks have a responsibility to proactively identify customers who are victims of social engineering scams like romance fraud. After all, romance scams are highly complex and constantly evolving, making them extremely difficult for individuals to protect themselves against. Banks are well-positioned to tackle romance scams thanks to their access to data, patterns, expertise, and technologies that can accurately detect and prevent financial losses.

Currently, Authorized Push Payment Fraud (APPF) serves as the main method used by romance scammers to fraudulently obtain funds from victims. This poses a challenge for banks – they must not only prevent fraudulent outgoing APPF payments, but also identify and block incoming transfers to mule accounts in real-time. If not, they will bear the additional cost of reimbursing undetected APPF fraud, both incoming and outgoing.

The new Contingency Reimbursement Model (CRM), effective on 7 October 2024, mandates banks to reimburse all cases of APPF, with some exceptions. The reimbursement cost is split 50/50 between the sending and receiving banks.

Unmasking Heartbreakers With AI

Ever-evolving fraud trends make it extremely difficult to keep pace and intervene when appropriate without adding significant friction.

While banks possess internal capabilities, effectively combating romance scams effectively necessitates dedicated solutions leveraging extensive data resources, advanced analytics capabilities, and technologies like artificial intelligence (AI).

These solutions analyze a vast array of data points, such as consumer spending behavior, uncharacteristic patterns, unusual credits, online fraud scam signals, and thousands of other data points through sophisticated machine learning models. The most advanced solutions continually adapt the models to emerging threats, providing banks with a crucial shield against romance scams.

To combat romance scams and keep pace with evolving fraud techniques, banks must explore partnerships with AI companies offering advanced risk detection software such as Daily Adaptive Models.

These models are trained every day on fresh data, keeping ahead of the relevant characteristics and instances of confirmed fraud. This ensures that the machine learning models adapt to changes in customer financial behavior and attacks, as well as new types of fraud, so banks aren’t limited to damage control after the fact – they can stop it in their tracks.

Unified transaction monitoring of outgoing and incoming transactions can vastly improve the real-time accuracy of APPF detection and mule account prevention, fortifying institutions against the insidious activity of romance scammers.


While the digital landscape has ushered in new avenues for forging romantic connections, it has also created a sinister undercurrent of predatory scammers. These heartbreakers, experts in emotional manipulation and financial exploitation, represent a threat to the authenticity of modern relationships.

Yet, banks, supported by solutions with expertise in machine learning, can forge formidable tools to counter these threats. Enabling banks to spearhead a comprehensive counteroffensive against romance scammers, ensuring that the pursuit of love remains untarnished.

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National Cyber Security