According to UK Finance, there was a 20% increase in bank transfer fraud linked to romance scams in 2020 compared to 2019.And £68m was lost to such scams in 2020, said the UK's Action Fraud - another increase on the previous year.
The advice suggests:online daters should not send any money, allow the other person to access their bank account, transfer money or take out a loan on the other person's behalfneither should they hand over copies of personal documents such as their passport or driving licenceor invest money on the other person's advicedo not receive or send parcels on the other person's behalfperform a reverse image search on a search engine to see if person is using fake imagescontact your bank immediately if you think you have fallen for a scam and report it to Action Fraud
The Covid-19 pandemic has added to the problem."The national lockdowns, and other restrictions on our social lives, implemented because of the coronavirus outbreak, have meant more people have been seeking companionship online and this has undoubtedly affected the number of reports we have seen," said Pauline Smith, head of Action Fraud."Romance scams can leave customers out of love and out of pocket," added Katy Worobec, managing director of economic crime at trade association UK Finance.
And increasingly, victims are at risk of prosecution as well as having their bank account emptied - as it is revealed that some scammers are now asking them to unwittingly launder money for criminal gangs.
Romance fraud often starts on online dating websites but quickly switches to social media or old-fashioned texting, so there is no evidence of the scam.Sometimes the scammer is more subtle than just asking for money, seeking instead to garner personal information, which can later be used to commit identity fraud.