Over 25% of dating website users fall victims to romance fraud, over the past year. So, the banking industry is warning consumers that these users have been scammed by fake personas .
Fraudsters pose as someone else, in order to gain the trust of their victims looking for love on these sites. The method is called “catfishing”. Once the users trust fraudsters, the latter try to trick their victims into funding them for an “emergency”. Moreover, some of the victims become the fraudsters’ tools that launder illegal money via their bank accounts.
UK Finance announced that over a fifth of the users told them they have been asked for money or have given money to someone they met on such websites. According to the source, the average amount was £321. The total money lost to romance scams in the first half of the last year was £7.9m. This is an increase of 50% on the 2018.
Trust allows romance fraud
Over half of the dating site users have troubles after they trust people they meet online, before they see them in person, according to the banking lobby. Thus, it seems that men (33%) were more likely to say they had been catfished than women (20%). Also, they are more likely to be asked for money – 26% vs. 15%.
Internet users should be cautious ahead of Valentine’s Day, Katy Worobec, managing director of economic crime at UK Finance said. “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,” she mentioned.
One week before, FBI released a similar warning, after 18,000 victims reported losses of over $362m in 2018 because of the romance fraud.