People looking for love online have been warned to beware of scammers, with a 60% rise in the amount of money lost in the last quarter.
Barclays bank warned daters to be vigilant, saying their research showed victims of such scams lose £4,090 on average.
People aged 51 to 60 are most at risk, accounting for over a third (35%) of all money lost to romance scams, according to the bank’s research.
A romance scam is when someone pretends to be interested in starting a relationship, but in reality wants to con you out of your cash.
Data shows 77% of all scams like this take place on tech platforms, such as dating apps and social media sites, Barclays said.
And they wanted people not to be complacent, after 66% of people said they were confident they would not fall victim to a scam like this.
Ross Martin, Head of Digital Safety at Barclays, says: ‘Dating apps can be a great way to meet people, but it’s important to remember that not everyone you speak to will have the best of intentions.
‘Scammers can use dating apps and social media sites to manipulate you into sending them money.
‘You should never feel pressured into doing this, and if something sounds suspicious or doesn’t feel right, stop engaging with the profile and speak to someone you trust for a second opinion.’
It can hard to look at people with suspicion, but there are list of signs that the person you’re speaking to might be a scammer.
Someone with only one or no photo at all can be a red flag.
Alternatively, if someone has glamorous photos showing off a lavish lifestyle, that can also be an attempt to try and fool you.
If their photos seem professional, they may have been swiped from elsewhere and you could be dealing with a ‘catfish’ who is pretending to be someone else.
One way of checking this is to do a ‘reverse image search’ of their photos to see if they have been taken from somewhere else.
Declaring their love very early on
Scammers may try to declare their love for you after a matter of weeks to try to lure you into feeling you’re in a whirlwind romance.
Bear in mind that they could be playing on your emotions to manipulate you and wear your guard down before they ask for money.
Refusing to meet in person
If the person you’re speaking to keeps coming up with excuses for why they can’t meet, there’s a strong chance they’re not who they say they are.
They may also refuse to speak over video call or on the phone, but them being willing to speak to you over a video call does not mean they aren’t a scammer.
If someone is replying within seconds of you sending them a message, you might be speaking to a real person after all, but a ‘spam bot’ that is trying to lure you in and lead you to another website.
Some profiles may try to direct you to click on a link to learn more about them.
Avoid suspicious links, and never click on a link if you feel unsure.
Requests for money
The biggest red flag is if someone starts asking you for money for whatever reason, whether it’s for a perceived emergency, or an investment opportunity.
You should always question why someone might be asking you for funds, and always consult a person you trust for a second opinion.
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