Lloyds issues £8,000 romance fraud warning to anyone with an account

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The average amount of money lost by each victim in romance scams last year was £8,234, new data from Lloyds bank shows.

The number of people falling victim to these cons increased by more than 30 per cent in 2022 on 2021.

Men were slightly more likely than women to fall victim to a romance scam in 2022, making up around 53 per cent of all cases. However, that was up considerably from 2021, when they accounted for only 39 per cent of cases.

Those aged between 65 and 74 were the most likely to be tricked into sending money to a fraudster masquerading as a romantic partner, with the number of cases amongst this age group rising by almost 75 per cent year-on-year. The average amount they lost was just over £12,000, Birmingham Live reports.

Scammers will usually target victims on social media platforms, particularly Facebook, or dating apps, such as Tinder. But they might quickly try to move the conversation onto another private messaging platform, like WhatsApp.

Typically they will come across as very caring and attentive, messaging back and forth – sometimes over a period of months – to build trust and give the impression that the relationship is genuine.

The fraudster may have scoured social profiles to help persuade their victim that they are the perfect match based on shared interests or personal circumstances. Often they will claim to be living or working abroad to explain why they can’t meet in person. They might also invent reasons why they can’t turn their camera on during calls.

Eventually, they will start to tell stories about family or legal issues, business problems or medical bills. They might appear reluctant to accept any help at first, but this is all part of the con. Amounts could be small, to begin with, but over time they convince their victim to send more and more money.

Liz Ziegler, fraud prevention director at Lloyds Bank, said: “The convincing lies told by fraudsters mean that while romance scam victims think they are falling in love, they’re actually falling for a scam. As well as losing thousands of pounds they also have to deal with this emotional betrayal. The sad truth is there was never any genuine connection, with criminals ruthlessly targeting multiple victims at the same time, and disappearing with the money as soon as they get found out.

“While online dating should be a fun and empowering experience, it’s vital that people are able to spot the warning signs, to keep both themselves and their loved ones safe. If you’ve started an online relationship and the discussion turns to money – regardless of the reason or the amounts involved – then alarm bells should be ringing.

“Never send money to people you’ve never met in person, no matter how much you’ve spoken online. Talking to a real-life friend or family member can be a good way to sense check what’s going on.”

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