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Romance scams rise 60% in six months

Written by: Rebecca Goodman
The amount of money lost to romance scams rose 60% between August 2022 and January this year, when compared to the previous six months, according to new data.

Fraudsters are using the cost-of-living crisis to persuade victims into parting with their cash, asking for money to pay for bills, food, and other essential items.

But while 27% of people said they would send money to someone they were dating online if they asked for it for help financially, victims of these types of scams lose an average £10,000.

Over a third of people in the UK have also been targetted by a romance scam or know someone who has, the research from Barclays revealed.

Those aged between 51 and 60 accounted for 35% of all money lost to romance scams, according to the bank’s internal data.

Yet younger people, those aged 21 to 30, 54% of which said they were confident they would not be a victim to a romance scam, were twice as likely to fall victim to a scam compared to those aged 51 to 60.

Many people are also ignoring red flags when dating online, 53% said they would overlook the fact someone didn’t want to meet them in person while 26% would overlook the fact someone was sending website links to learn more about them.

The data also revealed that 77% of scams take place via social media websites and dating apps.

Ross Martin, head of digital safety at Barclays, says: “Dating apps and social media can be a great way to meet people, but it’s important to remember that not everyone you speak to will have the best of intentions.

“Scammers can be very manipulative and will play on your emotions to get you to send them money. When they pull at your heartstrings, claiming to need money to pay for food or bills, it can be hard to say no, but you should never feel pressured into doing this.

“Remember, if something doesn’t seem right, always speak to someone you trust – whether that’s a friend, family, or your bank – for a second opinion.”

Red flags to watch out for when online dating

There are many obvious things to watch out for when online dating and some that are often overlooked. Here are six of the bank’s tips for things you should be wary of.

  1. Profile photo: Watch out for profiles with only one or no photo, or glamorous photos showing off a lavish lifestyle. If you can, do a ‘reverse image search’ of the photos to see if they have been taken from somewhere else.
  2. Quick replies: If someone is replying within seconds you might be speaking to a ‘spam bot’. Also beware of anyone who quickly suggests switching the conversation to email, or a personal messaging app or website.
  3. Website links: Some profiles may try to direct you to click on a link to learn more about them. Avoid suspicious links, and never click on a link if you feel unsure.
  4. Declaring love early: Scammers may try to declare their love for you after a matter of weeks. Bear in mind that they could be playing on your emotions to manipulate you.
  5. Refusing to meet: If the person you’re speaking to keeps coming up with excuses for why they can’t meet, there’s a strong chance they’re not who they say they are.
  6. Requests for money: You should always question why someone might be asking you for funds, and always consult a person you trust for a second opinion.

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