By Jessica Beard Deputy Money Editor
00:16 02 Feb 2024, updated 00:32 02 Feb 2024
- Victims, who were mainly aged 55 to 64, lost an average of £6,937 to scammers
Older people are falling for more and more romance scams, with many losing thousands to cruel fraudsters, it was reported yesterday.
Cases have jumped by a fifth overall, Lloyds Bank revealed in a warning ahead of Valentine’s Day.
And the number of those aged 55 to 64 who reported losing money to online dating criminals surged by 49 per cent in 2023.
This age group was the most likely to fall victim. Romance scams involve fraudsters luring their target into an online relationship, then extorting them for cash. Victims typically lost an average of £6,937 to scammers – down from £8,237 in 2022.
Banks say these types of scammers stole £31.3million in 2022, but Action Fraud believes the true figure is closer to £95million a year as many victims are too ashamed to report it.
Men were marginally more likely to fall for a romance scam, accounting for 52 per cent of cases. But women typically handed over more money – losing an average of £9,083 compared with £5,145 for men, Lloyds found.
Those aged 65 to 74 were tricked out of the most money, at an average of £13,123. Liz Ziegler, fraud prevention director at Lloyds, said: ‘Targeting those looking for love is a cruel, but sadly common, way for fraudsters to cash in. No good relationship starts off by sending money to someone you haven’t met.’
Scammers typically use fake online profiles to entice victims. Once trust has been established, the criminal will claim to be experiencing a problem, such as an issue with a visa, health or air tickets, and ask for money. Other red flags include making up excuses as to why they cannot video chat or meet in person, and trying to move your conversations off the platform on which you met.
More than four in five people who fell victim to a romance scam said they were duped by the clever language used by the criminals, the way they were spoken to, or the intimate conversations they had.