People aged 51 to 65 accounted for nearly half of the amount of money reported lost to romance fraud in 2022, according to TSB.
Scammers will create fake profiles on dating websites and social media and spend time building trust with people looking for a relationship before asking for cash.
Analysis by TSB among its customers found the average length of time between the first and last payment being made to a romance fraudster by their victim is 53 days.
Multiple payments over periods of time are common within romance scams.
In terms of the number of romance fraud cases reported to TSB, 18 to 35-year-olds made up around 26% of cases, 36 to 50-year-olds also accounted for 26%, 51 to 65-year-olds made up 25% of cases and people aged 65-plus accounted for 22%. The percentage figures were rounded.
However, the bank found that 51 to 65-year-olds collectively spent by far the most money on their “relationships”, meaning this age group accounted for 46% of financial losses to romance scams.
In three-fifths (60%) of all romance fraud cases analysed by TSB in 2022, scammers asked for financial help with bills, or daily living costs.
Some had specific stories about needing medical help, home improvements or car maintenance, while others asked for money to help them “get by”.
One in six (21%) claimed they were stuck abroad and needed help supporting themselves while they tried to find a way home. Claiming to work on an oil rig appeared to be a frequently used ploy, the bank found.
Nearly one in 10 (8%) cases involved scammers being sent money to book travel to be with their victim – trips they would never make.
In 4% of cases, fraudsters received blackmail payments from their victim, due to having received explicit images from them, or due to personal information having been shared, for example.
TSB advises consulting a friend or family member immediately if an online relationship starts to involve requests for money.
The bank also stressed the importance of not giving personal and sensitive information away.
It said romance scams account for 4% of all fraud it sees and these tend to be the most emotive losses that TSB refunds.
People can be so involved with a romance scammer that they take loans out to “support their relationship”. A quarter of TSB’s cases with losses of more than £10,000 involved this happening.
Paul Davis, director of fraud prevention at TSB, which has a fraud refund guarantee, said: “The best way of beating romance scammers is by talking to friends and family about the relationships you’re in – if you’re ever asked to send money then it’s time to stop.”
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