Romance scams jump by a fifth in 2023

The number of people falling victim to romance scams increased by over a fifth (22%) year-on-year in 2023, according to Lloyds Bank.

Data from the bank revealed that although the number of people being scammed increased, the average amount lost to these scams dropped by 15.8% from £8,237 in 2022 to £6,937 last year.

Romance scams are conducted by fraudsters who target those looking for love, often using fake photos and information on social media and online dating apps to lure in potential victims.

The scams can last for a long time as the fraudster builds a trusting relationship with their victim. However, they will have numerous and often increasingly implausible excuses for not being able to meet in person or show their face.

Eventually, they will ask for money, usually claiming family issues, medical bills or needing money to arrange travel to meet up with the victim. It may start as small amounts and build up over time.

The research by Lloyds Bank revealed that men were more likely to succumb to a romance scam, making up 52% of cases. Although it was found that women tend to report higher losses in these scams, with an average of £9,083, compared to £5,145 for men.

Men and women between the ages of 55 and 64 were most likely to be tricked by fraudsters masquerading as love interests, as the number of cases amongst this age group rose by almost 49% last year compared to 2022.

However, Lloyds Bank found that it is those aged between 65 and 74 who lose the most money in these scams, giving fraudsters on average £13,123, the highest amount of any age group.

Fraud prevention director at Lloyds Bank, Liz Ziegler, said: "Targeting those looking for love is a cruel, but sadly common, way for fraudsters to cash in. Scammers can be incredibly convincing and leave their victims both emotionally and financially drained.

"Social media and online dating apps are rife with fake profiles, and it can be hard to tell who is genuine. Remember that no good relationship starts off by sending money to someone you haven't met and this should be a big red flag.

"As soon as someone you’re talking to starts asking for money, step back from the situation and never hand anything over. 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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