Action Fraud is warning the public to spot the signs of romance fraud ahead of Valentine’s Day.
This comes as reports made to Action Fraud reveal that a staggering £50,766,602 was lost to romance fraud in 2018 – an average of £11,145 per victim and a 27 per cent increase on 2017.
Romance fraud happens when a person thinks they have met the perfect partner through an online dating website, app, or through social media, but in fact a fraudster is using a fake profile to form a relationship with them.
They will gain the person’s trust and ask for money or enough personal information to steal the victim’s identity.
New statistics released today reveal that many people across the UK continue to fall victim to this type of fraud, often with devastating consequences.
Not only are victims losing vast amounts of money, the emotional impact this may have can be even more difficult to come to terms with.
Diana Fawcett, chief officer at independent charity Victim Support, said: “Romance fraud affects victims both emotionally and financially and for many the impact can be long-term.
“These scams can be extremely sophisticated and victims should not feel ashamed or embarrassed and shouldn’t blame themselves in any way.
“It’s important that victims know there is help available to them and we would encourage them to seek support.”
Katy Worobec, managing director of economic crime at UK Finance, added: “We are urging customers to be vigilant against romance scams and not let a fraudster break their heart this Valentine’s Day.
“Banks are always looking out for any suspicious transactions, but we need customers to be on the guard against suspicious approaches too.
“Always be wary of any requests for money from someone you’ve never met in person.
“If you think you may have fallen victim to a romance scam, contact your bank straight away and report it to Action Fraud.”
You can contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.