A recent survey commissioned by UK Finance revealed that over a quarter of online dating users have been scammed by someone adopting a fake persona or picture.
The act of posing as someone in order to gain the trust of those looking for love is known as “catfishing.” Once gaining trust, victims are then tricked into wiring them funds, or even unknowingly becoming money mules.
Subsequently, with Valentine’s day around the corner, UK Finance is advising people on how to prevent themselves from falling victim to fraud and scams.
According to their recent survey, a fifth of respondents (21%) who used online dating services stated that they have either been asked for money or have given money to someone they met online, to which the average amount of money requested or given was £321.
In the first half of 2019, £7.9 million was lost to romance scams, an increase of 50% from the previous year.
Over a quarter (27%) of respondents admitted to being catfished in the last 12 months – to which men were more likely to say they have been catfished (33%) in comparison to women (20%).
Katy Worobec, Managing Director of Economic Crime at UK Finance, said:
“Romance scams are both emotionally and financially damaging for victims. The popularity of online dating services has made it easier for criminals to target victims, so we urge everyone to be cautious this Valentine’s.
“Although banks are always looking out for suspicious activity, customers must be on their guard and protect themselves too. Always be wary of requests for money from someone you’ve never met in person. If you think you’ve been the victim of a romance scam, contact your bank immediately.”
Just last week, the FBI issued a similar warning regarding threat actors taking advantage of those looking for love online.
To avoid falling victim to romance scams, users should be suspicious of any requests for money from someone who they have never met in person.
Users are also encouraged to utilise online search tools to research photos and profiles.
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