There are many types of fraud and we’ve certainly seen them in their full glory, unfortunately, during the last 12 months.
But what about romance scams or ‘fauxmance’? Is that even a thing, and how bad can it honestly be? Sadly, victims of romance scams lost a total of more than £68 million during 2020. But what is romance scamming?
Romance scamming involves people being duped into sending money to criminals who go to great lengths to gain their trust and convince them that they are in a genuine, loving relationship. They cleverly manipulate, persuade and exploit their victims so that requests for money do not raise alarm bells. Requests can be highly emotive, such as the fraudster claiming they need money for emergency medical care, or to pay for airline/train tickets to visit their victim if they are overseas.
With the social distancing restrictions in place during much of 2020 and the start of 2021, there has been a rise in romance scams. The Online Dating Association estimate more than 2.3 million Brits used dating apps during lockdown 1.0. This growing popularity of online dating is giving criminals more opportunities to exploit and coerce people into parting with their money.
It won’t happen to me
Victims of fraud always think that it couldn’t happen to them, but the truth is, it can happen to anyone. Romance scammers are often in it for the long-game as they build a relationship with their victims over time.
Staying safe from romance scams
Action Fraud makes a number of recommendations to help protect against romance scams:
- Be suspicious of any requests for money from someone you have never met in person, particularly if you have only recently met online.
- Speak to your family or friends to get advice.
- Profile photos may not be genuine, do your research first. Performing a reverse image search on a search engine can find photos that have been taken from somewhere, or someone, else.
Can we help?
If you are worried that you are a potential victim of romance scamming, please contact us on 01392 278612 to discuss how we can carry out investigations into potential scammers.