Romance scams on the rise – how to spot a swindler this Valentine’s Day
According to recent research from UK Finance, almost 30% of people who meet others online are asked to lend money to someone they have not met in person. This Valentine’s Day it’s crucial to remember that romance scams are on the rise (up 31% in 2022) and heartless criminals are looking to take advantage of hopeful romantics.
Following the COVID 19 lockdown, our online habits transformed, and although lockdowns are a thing of the past, the uptick in online dating is being capitalised on and exploited by scam artists around the world. The old ‘red flags’ simply don’t apply anymore – fraudsters are becoming increasingly sophisticated, in some cases even using deepfake technology to trick unsuspecting victims.
However, there are common threads we can follow. Scammers often use a host of the same fictious reasons for needing money, including flights to meet up with their victim, emergency medical expenses, rent payments, or a business investment. Victims are often worked on for months so sending over money, gift cards, vouchers, presents or even granting access to personal bank accounts can seem like second nature. After all, you can’t put a price on love, can you?
Prior to providing any money or information that can put your finances at risk, it’s crucial to take a moment to reflect. Being wary and hesitant of online partners you haven’t yet met in person is entirely reasonable and should be acknowledged on their end. Often, the scammer will act like they need the money in an emergency or even threaten to cut you off if you refuse to comply. Such behaviours are typical of a fraudster.
Today, Tinder and other dating sites operated by Match Group provide verification features that help filter out the fake profiles, but if you are using a site that doesn’t provide these services, doing your own due diligence will go a long way. Examining social media accounts or using our services to conduct a quick background check are small steps you can take to help ensure peace of mind.
If you think you have already been scammed, you must contact your bank as soon as possible as they may be able to help you. Since this problem is becoming prevalent in today’s society, you should confide in friends and family if you become a victim and don’t hesitate to contact us for investigational support and to learn about the options available to you.
Jane Carey, Head of Investigations at Conflict International, added that “Dating fraud is becoming an increasingly prevalent issue, especially with many individuals now almost exclusively relying on online means to find a partner. Criminals hiding behind a screen use this to their advantage and it is vital that individuals do not send money to matches they have never met in person, or risk the huge financial and emotional consequences that often accompany romance fraud. Individuals should be increasingly vigilant when online dating and if you think you have been defrauded in a dating scam, alert your bank immediately.”
If you think you’ve fallen victim to a dating scam and are looking to find out more about how we can help you build your case, please get in touch with us at [email protected] for a no-obligation chat on the available next steps.