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Data Reveals 39% Increase in Romance Scams in Second Quarter of 2023

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Romance scams were the second most prevalent scam type worldwide between March and June 2023.

The period of March to June 2023 has seen an almost 40% rise in romance scam reports compared to the previous quarter, according to the Avast Q2 Threat Report.

Romance scams, where a cybercriminal poses as a potential love interest on dating apps or social media to convince unsuspecting daters to part with their money, were the second most common type of scam reported in the three months, after ‘maladvertising’ (fake phishing adverts, designed to collect personal data).

In recent years, we have seen romance scammers adopting fake online identities – sometimes even impersonating celebrities – with which to approach unsuspecting daters looking for love on social media messaging apps (such as Messenger or WhatsApp) or established dating apps (such as Hinge, Tinder or Plenty of Fish).

Our romance scams page includes FAQs on the dating apps most commonly targeted by scammers.

The Avast report, however, shows that romance scammers are becoming more sophisticated and are changing their tactics enabling them to target more victims. According to Avast, in the second quarter of 2023, scammers started to approach their victims differently than has been typically observed; rather than approaching individuals directly, criminals send deceptive email and push notifications to victims, as well as posting misleading adverts, which all lead to seemingly legitimate looking dating sites.

Once on these sites, victims are ‘contacted’ by fake bot profiles who coerce them into paying for subscription services, allowing the scammers access to their money.

Romance fraud is a type of Authorised Push Payment (APP) fraud, where the scam victim ‘authorises’ a transfer of money from their bank account to another person’s account, either through bank transfers or card payments.

These scammers are masters of manipulation, quickly transferring money to another account, often overseas, and then disappearing. By the time the victim has realised that they have been scammed, it is often too late, making it very difficult, if not impossible, to get their money back.

Can you spot the hallmarks of a romance scam? Check out our list here.

As soon as you uncover that you have been the victim of a scam, you should contact your bank and Action Fraud to make a report. Banks are being encouraged to do more to detect and prevent Authorised Push Payment scams, such as romance scams, and should urgently start an investigation to try and recover the money from the receiving bank as soon as they are notified of any suspicious activity.

However, some banks will investigate and put the responsibility for the loss on the customer, in turn, refusing to pay a refund. If this is the case, and you feel that your bank could have done more to protect you and your money from scammers, you can make a complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS). FOS is a Government-backed body that independently investigates and deals with complaints between financial institutions and their customers.

Sarah Spruce, Head of the Authorised Push Payment team at TLW Solicitors, commented:

“This is not the first time we have seen data that romance scams are on the rise, so while it is a very worrying trend, it is not surprising; these types of scammers are incredibly sophisticated and are focused on targeting as many victims as they can at a time – it is ‘a numbers game’. Often, romance scam victims are understandably too embarrassed to report they’ve been scammed, but it is important to remember that you are not alone, and there is nothing to be ashamed of.

I would encourage anyone, whether you’ve been the victim of a romance scam yourself or you know a colleague, friend or family member who has been scammed, to get in touch with the specialist team at TLW Solicitors so we can investigate a possible refund claim.”

TLW Solicitors has an experienced team of Romance Scam compensation specialists who regularly deal with FOS claims. We understand the time limits, the complex legal arguments and defences the bank may raise, and the information needed to make your claim or appeal successful.

We offer a free, no-obligation assessment of your case. If we take on your case, we operate on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis, meaning you only pay us if your claim is successful.

It is important to get advice as soon as possible, as strict time limits can apply.

Minimum case values apply.

Meet Our Team

Meet Sarah, who heads up our experienced Authorised Push Payment Fraud Claims team.

Sarah and her colleagues are on hand to help with your claim.

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