IT may be Valentine’s Day soon but lovers beware as new data from UK Finance reveals a 20 per cent increase in bank transfer romance fraud between January – November 2020 compared to the previous year.
Not only that but the total value of these scams has risen by 12 per cent to £18.5million with the average loss per victim reported to UK Finance members at £7,850.
West Mercia Police say criminals can trick victims into sending them money in many ways, not just via a bank transfer.
Action Fraud has also seen a rise in reports made by members of the public who have fallen victim to romance fraud in 2020, with total reported losses equating to more than £68m.
In these reports, victims have lost money via bank transfer, money transfer, sending fraudsters gift cards and vouchers or presents such as phones and laptops, and providing them with access to their bank account or card.
Romance scams involve 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 relationship.
They manipulate, persuade and exploit so that requests for money do not raise alarm bells.
These requests might be highly emotive, such as criminals claiming they need money for emergency medical care, or to pay for transport costs to visit the victim if they are overseas.
The rise in romance scams comes as more people have turned to online dating during 2020 due to social distancing restrictions.
West Mercia Police Detective Inspector Emma Wright from the Economic Crime Unit said: “Romance scams are both emotionally and financially damaging for victims.
“The increasing popularity of online dating services has made it easier for criminals to target victims, so we urge everyone to be cautious and follow the advice of the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign.”
Taking a moment to stop and think before parting with your money or information could keep you safe.
Could it be fake? It’s ok to reject, refuse or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.
Contact your bank immediately if you think you’ve fallen for a scam and report it to Action Fraud.
If you think you’ve been the victim of a romance scam, contact your bank immediately, report it to Action Fraud at www.actionfraud.police.uk and call police on 101.