The most common phrases lonely love-seekers have fallen for include “I’ve fallen for u” and “U know me”, according to research
Three in ten Brits (31%) have been targeted by a romance scammer, research has found – with a whopping 83% admitting they fell for it purely due to the sweet-talk used by the scammer.
Some of the top choice phrases used by con artists, that resulted in victims losing money from their accounts, include: “I’ve fallen for u”, “We’re so alike”, and “Only u can help”. And it seems that victims really have had their hearts stolen – along with their cash – as they even fell for financial manipulation, including “I’ll pay u back”, and “My £££’s frozen”.
Often, the crooks will plead for cash to fund travel to visit their targets, create a false medical emergency, or claim that access to their own bank account has been blocked.
But they clearly know just the right words to say to exploit lonely love-seekers – as 83% said they fell for the scam due to the clever language used, the way they were spoken to, or the intimate conversations they had with the scammer. And the poll of 2,000 adults found that, of those who did send money to their scammers, they parted with £2,331.50, on average.
It also emerged that, as a result of being conned, 81% admit they have been put off dating, while 67% claim they have struggled to trust a romantic partner.
The research was commissioned by Santander, which has teamed up with TV dating expert, Anna Williamson, to launch Love Hurts – a range of sweets featuring the most common phrases used by romance scammers to reel in their victims.
UK Finance data shows romance fraud increased last year, with £31.3 million worth of romance scams reported in 2022 – up from £30.9 million in 2021, and £17.8 million in 2020.
Chris Ainsley, Head of Fraud Risk Management at Santander, said: “Scammers can be convincing and clever with their language, which is why we want people to be more alert to the tell-tale signs of a romance scam.
“No matter how sweet a situation may seem, it’s important to think twice, and ask yourself whether the romance is real – particularly when the conversation veers toward finances.
“As well as being guarded against sweet-talk, never sending money to people you have only just met – and checking in with a trusted friend or family member before making any payments can also help protect you from potential scams.”
Anna Williamson, TV presenter and star of Celebs Go Dating, added: “Romance fraud is manipulative and cruel. Dating is a wonderful and exciting thing, but we must always protect ourselves and remain mindful of somebody’s intentions.
“I hope Santander’s Love Hurts campaign can educate people about the “love language” to be mindful of, and stop scammers from bringing misery to so many people’s lives.”
For more information on how to detect scammers, visit here.
TOP 10 ROMANCE SCAM PHRASES TO WATCH OUT FOR:
- “I’ve fallen for u”
- “My £££’s frozen”
- “I’ll pay u back”
- “I can’t video call”
- “We’re so alike”
- “Trust me”
- “Only u can help”
- “We’ll be married”
- “U know me”
- “Soz, I’m abroad”
TOP TIPS ON AVOIDING A ROMANCE SCAM:
- Online friendships are based on profile. It is important to check if the person you’re talking to is who they say they are. For example, you can check if profile photos are genuine by performing a reverse image search on a web search engine. This can find photos that have been taken from someone else.
- Be on red alert if someone you’ve only met online asks you to lend them money, no matter how plausible their reason might seem. Try to remove the emotion from your decision-making, and talk it through with someone else.
- Never lie to your bank if they ask you questions about a payment you are making. We know the signs to look out for, and our questions are there to help protect you.