Spotting the warning signs of a romance scam

Spotting the warning signs of a romance scam

Romance scams involve people being conned into giving money to a criminal while believing they are in a romantic relationship. We look at the warning signs of a romance scam to help you avoid losing your savings and learn how to spot a potential scammer.

“(2022-2023) 8,036 reports of romance fraud, amounting to over £92m lost, with an average loss per victim of £11,500.”

National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB)

 In a recent blog, we shared some findings around the increase of pension and investment fraud. Romance scams are another type of financial crime on the rise, affecting thousands of people in the UK each year. Our team has been contacted by clients’ family members about this type of scam.

Sadly, people are simply unaware they’re being groomed, especially as a romance scam usually happens over a period of time. The victim believes there are genuine feelings involved, which makes these incidents even more distressing. So, what do you need to look out for when it comes to this type of fraud?

The ‘Romance Scammer’

This type of fraud mostly happens to single people using online dating platforms. Romance scammers deliberately seek out vulnerable targets, preying on lonely or trusting individuals. They invest a lot of time into building emotionally reliant relationships with their targets.

Once a romance scammer has gained someone’s trust, they’ll use a range of emotive reasons to ask them for money. The scammer might push their victim to send or transfer money, take out a loan on their behalf or invest into a scheme they have advised. Some people have been asked for access to bank accounts or copies of personal documents such as driving licences or passports. Another example is sending or receiving parcels with items.

Nowadays, these fraudsters’ schemes are becoming increasingly sophisticated. They use various means to get people out of their savings. This is a red flag if you’re getting to know someone and they start asking you for money.

Warning signs of a Romance Scam

Below are a few warning signs of what to look out for if you suspect someone could be a romance scammer:

  • Look out for online-only relationships – The romance scammer is highly adept at isolating their victims. Online relationships can become increasingly secretive, so it’s important to try and encourage people to check out their online partners.
  • Watch out for unusual behaviours – Victims can quickly find themselves in intense online relationships with solid emotions and commitments. When challenged about their relationship, people may become defensive and irritable.
  • Be suspicious if someone asks for money – A scammer may tell someone they need “money for urgent medical care” or to “pay for transport” or a visa so they can visit.

Stop, challenge and protect

Action Fraud is the UK’s National Fraud & Cyber Crime Reporting Centre. This organisation has guided people to avoid becoming victims of romance scams.

Below is a summary of their advice:

  • Stop: Before you give someone your money, take a moment to think about what you are doing. If possible, try to carry out some background checks on the individual through social media. Ask your family and friends for advice.
  • Challenge: If you are unsure of the authenticity of the person, do not give them your money. Check whether their online profile is real, including their photo. Use Google’s Reverse Image Search to find the history of an online photo.
  • Protect: Keep an eye on your friends and family. Speak to them in a supportive manner if you have any concerns. If you believe that you have been a victim of a scam, call your bank immediately and report to Action Fraud (see below).

Scammers will ‘stalk’ people’s social media profiles to learn about them, their likes and dislikes. This enables them to find common ground to start building fake relationships. Always consider how much information you are sharing online.

Report a romance scam to Action Fraud

If you have been the victim of a romance scam, please report this to Action Fraud via or call 0300 123 2040.

If you or a loved one are one of our clients, then please contact our team for guidance. We have a set of protocols for assisting our clients in these situations.

Wealth Managers, Nottingham and Lincoln

Before transferring money to someone you haven’t met in person or if you have doubts about their authenticity, stop and check if it’s a scam. Never feel pressured into giving anyone money, and never transfer money to someone unless you are sure it’s safe.

When you’re one of our clients, we’re on hand to advise you or a family member on a range of financial matters. Our team are based in Nottingham and Lincoln, and our aim is to help you both manage and protect your hard-earned wealth.

If you’re a client worried about a potential romance scam, get in touch as soon as possible.