Featured on BBC One’s Northern Justice & Morning Live



Romance Scams Rose by 22% in 2023:
Do You Know How to Protect Yourself and Your Money?

APP Fraud

Analysis of scam reports by Lloyds Banking Group found that romance scams rose by over a fifth year-on-year, and men and those over 55 were more likely to fall victim.

With around 1 in 5 relationships starting online in 2023 and with our increasingly digital society, it is no wonder that scammers have chosen to exploit the online dating industry for their own gains, to the detriment of those genuinely seeking companionship.

Lloyds Banking Group (LBG) has released data on romance scams reported by its customers in 2023. The report, which compares the statistics to the same period in 2022, paints a stark picture of the increasing prevalence of these types of scams in the UK and is only a snapshot of the overall issue.

Romance scams are a type of online fraud where scammers create fake profiles on dating apps and websites or simply use common messaging services, such as Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp, to develop relationships with victims for the sole purpose of stealing their money. Romance scammers are highly sophisticated criminals who use flattery and manipulation to convince victims to part with their hard-earned cash.

TLW Solicitors has helped many victims of romance scams secure compensation and recover their money if it has been found that their banks should have done more to prevent the scam from taking place.

Some interesting takeaways from the latest Lloyds report include:

  • 52% of men fell prey to romance scams
  • Women lost more money to romance scams: £9,038 versus £5,145 lost by men
  • Those aged 55-64 were most likely to lose money of all age groups, a 49% increase on 2022
  • 65–74-year-olds lost the most of any age group, an average of over £13,000
  • The average lost overall has fallen: £6,927 in 2023 versus £8,237 in 2022, but there has been a 22% rise in reports

Liz Ziegler, Fraud Prevention Director at Lloyds Bank, said of the findings:

“Targeting those looking for love is a cruel, but sadly common, way for fraudsters to cash in. Scammers can be incredibly convincing and leave their victims both emotionally and financially drained. Social media and online dating apps are rife with fake profiles, and it can be hard to tell who is genuine. Remember that no good relationship starts off by sending money to someone you haven’t met, and this should be a big red flag.”

We regularly provide updates on the latest romance scam trends, including useful tips for staying safe and, while each scam is different, there are some common red flags to note if you are looking for love online:

  • The individual you are talking to asks lots of – usually personal – questions about you but gives very little back about themselves.
  • They are very full-on very early, showering you with praise and flattery to make you feel that an emotional bond or connection has been established. This is known as ‘love bombing’.
  • They push to get you off the app or website’s messaging service and onto apps like WhatsApp or Messenger, where conversations aren’t recorded or monitored, and they can use bogus contact information.
  • Their profile, images, and background information are both too good to be true and relatively vague. Often, romance scammers use photos of ‘attractive’ people pulled from Google or social media to lure in victims and make up false, vague backstories and occupations. This is all designed to justify why they can’t talk on the phone or meet up in person and why they (eventually) need money.

Once they have gained their victim’s trust, the scammers will start asking for money to help with ‘urgent’ and unforeseen circumstances such as medical bills, travel expenses to visit the victim, debts, or business investments.

If you suspect that you or someone you know is being scammed, it is essential to act quickly. Stop communicating with the person immediately and report the scam to the authorities.

Most romance scams involve an element of Authorised Push Payment (APP) fraud, which happens when the victim is encouraged into willingly transfer money out of their bank account – essentially authorising the transfer – into the scammer’s account.

Unfortunately, this type of fraud is not usually detected straight away, as the victim believes that they are transferring the funds for a legitimate purpose, such as helping a romantic interest pay a bill or invest. In some cases, there can be multiple transactions before the victim realises their online romance is not what it seems.

If you, a friend, or a loved one, believe they have been the victim of a romance APP scam, the first thing to do is report it to your bank and Action Fraud, the National Fraud and Cybercrime Reporting Centre. The bank should investigate the report internally; in some cases, this will be sufficient to recover any money lost.

In the UK, banks have a duty to put in place processes, procedures, and safeguards to prevent these types of scams from taking place, but increasingly, it is being found that these protocols are not always enough to keep customers’ money safe. If your bank refuses to compensate following an APP scam, the complaint can be escalated for an independent review by the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS), and TLW Solicitors can help with this process.

FOS is a government-backed body responsible for investigating and resolving disputes between financial services firms (such as banks) and their customers. If you disagree with the decision your bank reached regarding a refund, then you can take your case to FOS, and they will carry out their own investigation.

Sarah Spruce, Legal Director and Head of the Scams and Fraud team at TLW Solicitors, commented on the Lloyds data:

“It is sad to see these types of scams continuously rising year-on-year. Romance scams are particularly insidious because they target those who are putting themselves out there in the hopes of finding a genuine connection with someone, and the scammers are exploiting this vulnerability for their own gain.

We deal with romance scam victims week-in, week out and, although it may seem embarrassing to have been reeled in by a scammer, we have seen how convincing they can be. There is no need to be ashamed, you are definitely not alone – get in touch with my team today for a no-obligation discussion about your case.”

TLW Solicitors has an experienced team of Romance Scam compensation specialists who regularly deal with FOS claims. We know the time limits that apply, the complex legal arguments and defences that may be raise raised, and what information is needed to give your claim or appeal the best chance.

If you, a colleague, friend or loved one, have been the victim of a romance scam or other APP fraud, please get in touch by telephone, email or using one of the forms below.

We offer an initial no-obligation assessment of your case. If we take on your case, we operate on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis, meaning you do not pay us anything if your refund claim is unsuccessful.

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

Minimum case values may 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.