Money Wellness
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calendar icon24 Jan 2024

New guide helps people with learning difficulties spot romance and impersonation scams

A new easy-read guide has been launched to help people with learning difficulties spot the signs of romance and impersonation scams.

People with learning difficulties may be more at risk from these types of fraud, as they may miss subtle warning signs of the social engineering tactics criminals use.

Romance and impersonation scams are also more likely to involve victims being manipulated into making repeated payments over a long period of time and so they can lead to significant financial loss.

What are romance scams?

During the first half of 2023, £18.5m was stolen through romance scams.

Romance scams involve criminals making victims believe they are in a relationship in order to get them to hand over money. These ‘relationships’ are often formed through social media or dating apps.

What are impersonation scams?

In the first six months of 2023, £76.1m was stolen from people in the UK through impersonation scams.

Impersonation scams involve criminals pretending to be from organisations like the police, banks, energy companies, broadband providers and government departments to trick victims into making payments.

More than just a financial cost

Jackie O’Sullivan, acting chief executive at Mencap, said:

“Many people with a learning disability successfully manage their own money, which means they maintain freedom to make choices about their own lives.

"The outcome, then, of being a victim of fraud could come at more than just a financial cost, potentially stripping them of crucial independence and confidence.

“Providing accessible information about potential scams is one important step to protecting people with a learning disability from fraud.”

Top tips to protect yourself from impersonation scams

The new guide reminds people:

  • Your bank will never ask you to transfer money to a ‘safe account’.
  • HMRC will never threaten to arrest you.
  • The police will never ask you to take money out of your account to help them.
  • Only scammers will try to rush and panic you into taking money out of your account or moving it to a different account.

Top tips to protect yourself from romance scams

The new guide advises people:

  • Don’t send money to a person you’ve never met in real life.
  • Be careful of people who refuse to meet up in real life.
  • Only accept friend requests from people you know and trust.
  • Speak to family and friends if you aren’t sure someone is who they say they are.
Avatar of Rebecca Routledge

Rebecca Routledge

A qualified journalist for over 15 years with a background in financial services. Rebecca is Money Wellness’s consumer champion, helping you improve your financial wellbeing by providing information on everything from income maximisation to budgeting and saving tips.

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