Romance scams rise 22% in 2023 | #DatingScams | #LoveScams | #RomanceScans

Victims of romance scams rose by a fifth in 2023, losing an average of £6,937 to fraudsters posing as a love interest.

Although an annual rise in romance fraud of 22% was recorded by Lloyds Bank, the average value of cash stolen fell by 15% from £8,237 year-on-year (YOY). There has been a rise in cases of romance scams in recent years.

A romance scam involves a fraudster targeting a person looking for love, often using fake photos and information on social media and online dating apps to lure in potential victims.

The scams can be carried out over long periods of time. The fraudster builds a trusting relationship with their victim, showering them with affection and attentiveness, but will make excuses for not meeting in person or showing their face on video calls. Excuses include working away in the armed forces or in international aid and charity work.

After building up trust, the fraudster will ask for money, claiming it’s needed for family issues, medical bills or to arrange travel to meet up with the victim.

In 2023, men made up 52% of cases. When women do fall victim to a romance scammer, they tend to report higher losses – an average of  £9,083, compared to an average of £5,145 lost by men.

Men and women aged between 55 and 64 were most likely to be tricked by fraudsters masquerading as love interests. The number of cases amongst this age group rose by almost 49% compared to 2022.

Those aged between 65 and 74 lose the most money – on average, £13,123, the highest amount of any age group.

‘Never hand anything over’

Liz Ziegler, fraud prevention director at Lloyds Bank, said: “Targeting those looking for love is a cruel, but sadly common, way for fraudsters to cash in. Scammers can be incredibly convincing and leave their victims both emotionally and financially drained.

“As soon as someone you’re talking to starts asking for money, step back from the situation and never hand anything over. Talking to a real-life friend or family member can be a good way to sense-check what’s going on.”

Steps to prevent yourself or a family member becoming a victim

  • Be cautious of strangers contacting you on social media.
  • Look out for profile photos that look professional or ‘model-like’.
  • Speak to someone who already knows you well to get their point of view.
  • Never send money to a stranger, no matter how well you think you know them online.
  • Be very wary when someone has endless excuses about why they can’t meet in person.
  • Never give out personal or financial details.

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