Nationwide issues urgent scam warning amid worrying 42% rise | #DatingScams | #LoveScams | #RomanceScans

The scams involving men grew by 40 per cent last year, while the number involving women saw a marginal drop of two per cent.

The building society explained how romance scams often involve criminals building online relationships based on a false sense of trust and the promise of a relationship.

After laying the foundations, the criminal will inevitably request money, often using an emotional backstory to manipulate their victim. 

Overall, there were 42 per cent more cases of romance scams reported by men in 2023 compared to women.

And of the total romance scam cases involving men, nearly two in five (39%) involved those aged 50-70 years old, compared to 45 per cent of women. However, contrary to the view that romance scams are reserved for older people, one in five (20%) cases involved men aged 20-30, compared to just over one in ten (11%) women.

According to Nationwide’s data, women are more likely to lose more than men, with the average 2023 claim standing at £10,610 compared to £8,181 for men.

Nationwide encourages any customers concerned about a payment to use its Scam Checker Service before making any payment. It is available in branch or by calling a 24/7 freephone number (0800 030 4057). If the payment goes ahead and the customer is subsequently scammed, unless Nationwide tells the customer not to proceed, they will be fully reimbursed. 

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Jim Winters, Nationwide’s Director of Economic Crime, said: “Criminals can be very convincing and persuasive enough to get someone looking for love or feeling lonely to give them their trust, personal details and ultimately their money, even when they haven’t actually met each other in person.  

“Our data shows all ages can be a target of romance scams as criminals will cast their net far and wide to stand the best chance of snaring a victim.  This is why everyone looking for love, regardless of age or gender, needs to protect their wallet as well as their hearts by looking out for any red flags.

“Be curious, ask questions and involve family and friends who have your best interests at heart. Education is the biggest deterrent to scams.”

Nationwide’s advice on keeping your money safe:

Keep your conversations on trustworthy dating apps and websites: Scammers try to take your interactions outside the dating apps and websites. They encourage you to use private emails, phone calls and instant messaging. These cannot be easily tracked and are not as secure.

Do not let money come into your online relationship: This includes sending and accepting money. Meet them in person and get to know them. Giving lots of reasons for why they cannot meet up is a warning sign. They’re trying to hide. And if they ask for money, always walk away.

Research the people you meet online: If things start to become serious, it’s okay to look up this person a bit more. Are they on other social network websites? Can you confirm what they’ve told you about where they work or live or what their life circumstances are? Do a reverse image search on their photos. Scammers invariably reuse images of other people they find online.

Run it by friends and family: Often, scammers will try and make your relationship a secret between the two of you. Talk about your relationship with friends and family you trust. They may spot something suspicious.

Be wary of how they talk to you: Scammers often use scripts and work on multiple victims at a time. They avoid using your name and instead use general terms like honey, babe or angel. There may also be inconsistencies in their stories. It’s okay to be suspicious.

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National Cyber Security