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According to statistics from Lloyds Bank, incidents of romance scams rose by 22% in 2023 compared to the previous year, with an average loss of approximately £6,900 per case of romance fraud.

Perhaps one of the most cruel, interpersonal, and emotionally-driven types of scams a person can fall victim to, romance scams rely on shady techniques designed to prey on a victim’s time, trust, and empathy – all to drain them of as much money as possible.

As dating apps become more accepted as reasonable ways to meet a partner, and increasingly ubiquitous within younger circles, scammers have become more brazen. This means that online dating scams are becoming more common as the potential ‘marketplace’ for scammers increases exponentially.

What is a Romance Scam?

Romance scams typically involve criminals creating fake profiles on social media and/or dating apps, using stolen photos of attractive people with publicly open profiles. These fake profiles are used to create and cultivate a relationship, preying on the vulnerability or desperation of the potential victim. The aim is to exploit trust and empathy to siphon money over time.

Typically, a long-term scam, online dating fraudsters devote time and attention to growing the relationship. Conversations often occur multiple times per day to build trust and gather personal information, making it appear that the victim and the scam profile have a lot in common and are ‘meant for each other.’

Once the victim believes a genuine relationship has been established and is entirely emotionally invested, romance scammers begin to request money. Common reasons include travel expenses (to visit the victim), emergency situations, or temporarily frozen bank accounts.

Signs of a Romance Scam

As master manipulators, romance scammers continuously test new methods and lies to dupe victims. Here are some red flags to be aware of when talking to a new dating profile:

  • Asking lots of personal, potentially sensitive, questions
  • Accelerated bond creation, often declaring feelings or creating idyllic scenarios nearly instantly
  • Quickly requesting that you communicate with them away from the dating platform
  • Never meeting in person despite promises to do so, often citing travel costs
  • Avoiding answering personal questions about themselves or mirroring the victim’s information
  • Requesting financial assistance, often tied to emotional situations
  • Reverse image searches showing that the photos used belong to another person
  • Excuses of broken/faulty webcams and microphones to obscure their real appearance and voice
  • Telling you exactly how they want money transferred, typically through wire transfer, gift cards, or cryptocurrency

How to Avoid Romance Scams and Protect Yourself from Online Fraud

When dealing with a potential romance scam, always remember this rule: never give money, gifts, or personal information to someone you have not met in real life.

Here are a few fundamental steps to protect yourself from online dating scams:

  • Do not send money to people or organizations you do not know or trust. If you have already sent money, stop and contact your bank immediately.
  • Perform reverse image searches on the profile photos and all photos they’ve sent to you.
  • Cross-reference the job the suspect profile claims to have with common scams.
  • Reach out to trusted family members and friends. Have they raised concerns about your new ‘lover’?

How Claims Supermarket May Assist Victims of Romance Scams

If you feel you have fallen victim to a romance scam or online dating fraud, Claims Supermarket may be able to help you.

As part of the Rothley Law Group, Claims Supermarket works under SRA-regulated Rothley Law. Located in Leicester but covering the length and breadth of the UK, Claims Supermarket has helped thousands of clients recover money from banks and other financial services that may have fallen short of mandatory financial obligations to their customers.

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