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Romance scams hit record high in 2023, with victims duped out of £36.5m | #DatingScams | #LoveScams | #RomanceScans

ROMANCE scams hit a record high last year, with victims duped out of £36.5million.

But fake Romeos raked in only a fraction of the overall total lost to bank payments fraud, which hit £1.17billion.

Romance scams hit a record high last year, with victims duped out of £36.5millionCredit: Getty

Online love cheats woo lonely singletons before starting to ask for help buying things and pushing for cash transfers.

Figures from UK Finance show the scams, which typically take several months and see victims duped into making ten payments, rose by almost a third in 2023 compared to the year before. And they doubled from 2020.

It is likely the overall figure is much higher than recorded, said the banking body, with victims often suffering emotional damage.

The Sun spoke to fraud experts from Natwest who deal with hundreds of calls each week from devastated victims of all ages and backgrounds.


One call handler said: “Often people don’t believe that they’re being scammed and say, ‘it’s my money, I can do what I want’.

“But it turns out they have never met the person.

“They will have been fed excuses like they ‘work on an oil rig and can’t take a call’.”

Around 50 per cent of romance fraud starts on social media sites.

In all, says UK Finance, fraudsters fleeced bank customers of £1.17billion last year — but the banks managed to stop a further £1.25billion being taken.

The biggest type of con continues to be purchase scams with people often buying goods — such as Taylor Swift tickets — that never arrive.

How to protect yourself from scams

Card ID theft — when criminals use stolen cards or details to open a fraudulent account — is the fastest rising fraud, up 53 per cent from last year.

Contactless cards are also an easy weapon, with a record £91.4million taken by the thieves stealing them and tapping without facing any checks.

Shell demo’s Parton shot

Climate protestors outside oil giant Shell’s shareholder meetingCredit: Rex

PROTESTERS tweaked the lyrics to Dolly Parton’s classic tune Jolene yesterday during a demonstration outside oil giant Shell’s shareholder meeting.

They sang: “Shell kills, Shell kills, Shell kills.” But boss Wael Sawan shrugged off their bid to persuade the company to set tighter climate targets at the meeting in London. Shell’s updated energy transition strategy got the backing of 78 per cent of investors.

Meanwhile, 19 per cent voted for a separate climate resolution proposed by activist investor Follow This.

Devon forbid! Divi’s up

South West Water owner Pennon has handed investors a £125million dividend – just days after its water gave diarrhoea to locals in DevonCredit: Getty

JUST days after tap water gave Devon locals diarrhoea, South West Water owner Pennon has handed investors a £125million dividend.

Pennon claimed it had reduced its shareholder payouts by £2.4million to signal it was “listening” and doing “what is right for all”.

But the dividend is 3.8 per cent more than last year and dwarfs the £3.5million compensation for 17,000 homes in Brixham.

Pennon said some households there were still boiling water to avoid parasites, but it said normal service had been returned to 85 per cent of customers.

It said underlying operating profits had risen by 8.6 per cent to £166.3million but pre-tax losses edged up slightly from £8.5million to £9million.

South West Water has proposed raising customer bills by 20 per cent over the next five years. Ofwat will decide on this on June 12.

Card fee rises 30%

MASTERCARD and Visa have hiked charges by 30 per cent over the past five years — and it is hard for firms to avoid them, the Payment System’s Regulator said.

The pair control 95 per cent of the market and companies pay a fee each time someone uses a card.

The regulator said it would crack down as there was “little evidence” that the quality of service had improved at the same rate as their price increase.

Food prices ease

FOOD inflation has eased to “more normal levels” of 2.4 per cent, industry stats show.

The rate of food price rises has now fallen for 15 months in a row and is at its lowest since October 2021.

It is a welcome relief after Brits faced food inflation of almost 20 per cent last year. However, most grocery prices are still more expensive than they were a year ago.

The research by Kantar found butter, toilet rolls and milk prices are falling fastest but orange juice, sweets and chocolate are still rising.

SHARES in Greencore, the UK’s biggest sandwich maker, surged almost 19 per cent yesterday after it returned to the black with £14.7million of pre-tax profits. It said ingredient inflation was easing but staffing costs are up, so it is hiring more robots.

Rebels rock THG

AN activist investor has launched a fresh assault on THG, the owner of MyProtein and Cult Beauty, and called for the chairman’s removal.

Kelso has urged investors to vote against Lord Charles Allen due to THG’s failure to revive its share price and shift to a premium London stock exchange listing — first mooted in 2021. It has previously called for a break-up.

Kelso, a small investor with just 5.5million shares, said Lord Allen should be “leading strategy” and was rebelling due to a “lack of progress”.


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