Much more than just a recommendation...

Posted on: 8th February 2024

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Don’t let the scammers steal more than just your heart this Valentines season

FEBRUARY is the season of love and romance – but it is also a key date for fraudsters aiming to steal your money as well as your heart.

Romance fraud is one of the top five most commonly reported scams to Action Fraud, and involves 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.

Now comes the timely reminder to people who may be looking for love to be extra vigilant, taking measures to ensure their ‘perfect match’ is really who they say they are.

In the last financial year, the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) received 8,036 reports of romance fraud, amounting to £92.8 million lost, with an average loss per victim of £11,500.

According to data released by Lloyds Bank in February 2023, romance scams increased by 30% last year with men making up 53% of cases and the 65 to 74 age group most likely to be targeted.

One of the most high-profile cases is that of Vicky – a victim of Emmanuel Scotts, a convicted serial romance fraudster who scammed four women he met on an online dating website out of more than £320,000.

Vicky, details her first-hand experience of being manipulated by a romance fraudster: 

They look for your weaknesses and mine is my son and not having his dad around. He made a point of being interested in everything my son did. Taking time to talk to him when we were on the phone together and praising him. He praised me constantly on what a great job I was doing bringing him up on my own, telling me he wanted to take care of me.”

On being convicted in November 2022, Scotts was sentenced to 12 years behind bars.

Scotts befriended several women on an internet dating site and, after gaining their trust, he persuaded them to “invest” savings and returning small sums of “interest” to extract more money.

Sadly, Vicky’s story is typical of so many who fall for the charms of a scammer and are duped into believing lies and being led into a false sense of security.

Kathy Waters, co-founder of Advocating Against Romance Scammers, said: 

Romance fraud should not be a silent crime. The stigmas surrounding the scams are from the lack of education and awareness pertaining to how the scams are formulated and executed. By providing ongoing education, and tools for romance fraud prevention, countless romance scams can be interjected.”

How to stay safe from romance fraudsters:

  • Be suspicious of any requests for money from someone you have never met in person, particularly if you have only recently met online.
  • Be cautious about how much information about yourself you are sharing online and who you are sharing information with.
  • Speak to your family or friends to get advice. Fraudsters will subtly isolate you for their own purposes.
  • Profile photos may not be genuine. Performing a reverse image search can find photos that have been taken from somewhere, or someone, else.


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