Money Wellness
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calendar icon02 Feb 2024

Who said romance is dead?

Romance scams rose by 22% last year with people aged between 55 and 64 most likely to fall victim, according to the latest data from Lloyds Bank.

However, the average amount lost to romance scams actually fell in 2023, with £6,931 stolen on average compared to £8,237 in 2022.

A romance scam is when fraudsters target those looking for love, often using fake photos and information on social media and online dating apps to lure in potential victims.

The scams can last over long periods of time, with fraudsters building a trusting relationship with their victims and showering them with affection and attentiveness.

The scammer will use numerous – and often increasingly implausible – excuses for why they can’t meet in person or show their face on video calls. Common excuses include working away in the armed forces or in international aid and charity work.

Eventually, they will ask for money, usually to help with family issues, medical bills or say they need it for travel costs to be able to meet up. It may start as small amounts and build up over time.

According to Lloyds Bank, men were slightly more likely to fall victim to romance scams in 2023 than women, with men making up 52% of the cases.

When women do fall victim, they tend to report higher losses – an average of £9,083 compared to an average £5,145 lost by men.

When looking at the age of people who have fallen victim, men and women aged between 55 and 64 were most likely to be tricked by romance fraudsters, with the number of cases amongst this age group rising by almost 49% compared to 2022.

However, it’s those aged between 65 and 74 who lose the most money, giving romance scammers an average £13,123 – the highest amount of any age group.

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.

“Social media and online dating apps are rife with fake profiles, and it can be hard to tell who is genuine. Remember that no good relationship starts off by sending money to someone you haven’t met, and this should be a red flag.

“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.”

According to Lloyds Bank, these are the ways you can stop yourself falling victim to a romance scam:

  • 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
Avatar of Caroline Chell

Caroline Chell

Caroline has worked in financial communications for more than 10 years, writing content on subjects such as pensions, mortgages, loans and credit cards, as well as stockbroking and investment advice.

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