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Six signs that you, or someone you know, is a victim of romance fraud

Help your employees, friends and family stay safe from romance fraud this Valentine’s Day


Romance fraud is a tale as old as time. And… well, the internet.


The story often goes something like this. You receive a message from your perfect man or woman and wow - you’re really getting along. You may start to chat more frequently, exchange numbers, even video call. Everything seems normal. Hooray you’ve found the one!


Suddenly your lover falls into some sort of financial trouble, and they need you to help. Of course, you help them - they’re someone you care about deeply, and you’ve built a level of trust.


But you come to their rescue, send them the financial support they need, and they then have another crisis and ask for more - or they disappear without a trace.


The Covid-19 pandemic created the perfect environment for romance fraud to thrive in. Online dating was the only way we could meet new people, and with restrictions on meeting in person it was too easy for criminals to get away with never having to meet their victims. By April 2021, reports of romance fraud were up by 40%. Additionally, 63% of romance fraud victims are women around the age of 50.


Keeping yourself and those around you safe


“Awareness is key here. While you may think that you’d see right through someone trying to scam you, a member of your family, a work colleague, or friend may not, and that’s why it’s well worth your time talking about it”, said Inside Out founder, Danielle Phillips. “These criminals are excellent at targeting the right people, which makes them even more dangerous.”


“Have a conversation with those around you - share an article you see, message them a social media post, or if it’s your team at work, email round that eye-catching campaign you’ve seen. It can make all the difference between falling for a scam, and taking a second to think about what’s happening because alarm bells start ringing,” said Danielle.


Six signs that you, or someone you know, is a victim of romance fraud


How to spot a romance fraudster and their tactics:


1. ‘Only you can help me!’


The most common trick used by romance fraudsters is using fake emotional stories to extract money from you. They may explain that they’ve found themselves in financial trouble, or that they need money for emergency medical treatment, or to cover travel costs to see you.


This isn’t an extensive list, their reasons for needing money from you may be more imaginative and specific. Money for renewing a passport, or a few gift cards from common retailers.


Be aware of any attempt to make you send money to someone you have never met, or to take out a loan (that you can’t even afford in the first place) to help them short-term because they’ve promised to repay you really quickly.


2. ‘Tell me about yourself…’


A romance scammer will be keen to get to know you very well, in order to leverage this information later down the line. They will ask you lots of questions, but steer the conversation away from talking about themselves.


There may not be much information about them on their social media pages, if they exist at all.


An element of mystery is fun, but be cautious.


3. ‘I’m a bit of a big shot!’


A fraudster may also claim that they have a high-ranking job which keeps them away from home for long periods of time. This can make you more unsuspecting when it comes to requests to send them money, or why they aren’t able to meet in person.


They can’t be scamming me, they have lots of money themselves - but their bank account has been hacked! I have to help.


You get the gist?


4. ‘Let's take this somewhere else…’


A scammer may ask you to move the conversation outside of the dating site you originally started chatting on.


This means that if they ask you to send them money, or gift cards, or ask you to apply for a loan on their behalf, they’re not doing it on a monitored platform which could be used as evidence against them.


Stay put on the platform to protect yourself.


5. ‘Can you do me a favour?’


A romance fraudster may even ask you to accept money into your account. ‘Well that sounds brilliant, I thought they were meant to be scamming me, not giving me money?’.


Well - they could ask you to hold onto this money, and transfer it into another bank account. This makes you a victim of romance fraud and money laundering. Always see a request of this nature as a big red flag.


6. ‘Mind dropping this off at the post office for me?’


A trick which also puts you at risk of taking part in criminal activity is when a fraudster asks to send you valuable items, and asks you to resend them to someone else on their behalf.


Think about their reasoning for why they can’t do this themselves. It’s likely to be suspicious and emotive. Don’t be tempted to follow their requests.



Here at Inside Out we’re experts at communicating cyber safety in a straightforward way that creates lasting behaviour change.


Curious about what we could do for your organisation? Send us an email hello@insideoutconsulting.co.uk or visit our website insideoutconsulting.co.uk.

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