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UK sees record surge in online romance scams

Another online dating scam that you might come across is ticket scam. Once they gain your trust, they will talk about their plans to travel.

Image: — © AFP
Image: — © AFP

Any form of cybercrime and other scams initiated by one person against another is horrendous on the part of the recipient. Preying on people who might be especially vulnerable or who have their guards down is especially reprehensible. An example of this in the world of lonely hearts.

Romance scams – part of the practice of ‘catfishing’ – most often occur when criminals create fake online profiles to trick online love seekers out of their hard-earned money. Catfishing itself refers to an activity when a person takes information and images, typically from other people, and uses them to create a new identity for themselves

While these practices occur worldwide, a new study shows the U.K. is experiencing an unprecedented surge in romance scams across the summer. Heading towards this expected peak, victims have lost a record €104 million to romance scams over the last 12 months, up from €68 million in 2020.

With specific areas, London and South East of England are tied for losing the most money, each losing €14.4 million as of 1st June 2022.

The website SocialCatfish.com has released a study on the ‘Most Catfished Places in the UK in 2022’. This is based on an assessment of data from the British National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB). The period examined runs from June 1, 2021 to June 1, 2022.

The study finds younger (and presumably tech-savvy) Britons are being scammed more often than their elders. Young adults ages 20-29 represent 16.34 percent of people scammed, whereas ages 60-69 and 70-79 make up only 14.16 percent and 9.15 percent respectively.

As well as providing an insight into the geographical areas of concern, SocialCatfish.com has provided Digital Journal with signs and symptoms to look out for and activities that should send danger signals. These are:

Will Not Meet in Person or Video Chat

They keep finding excuses not to video chat or meet. They may send photoshopped pictures of themselves with your name written on a piece of paper to prove they are real.

Asks to Move off the Dating App

They want to move the conversation off the dating app and onto an online messaging platform such as WhatsApp or Google Hangouts.

Poor Grammar

They claim to be highly educated but their messages are littered with typos and grammatical errors.

Confesses Love Quickly

They shower you with love to gain your trust so they can steal your money. If the person moves too quickly and asks for the same in return, it is a red flag.

Asks for Financial Assistance

They claim to have an emergency and ask you to send money. They may also ask for your bank account information so they can deposit money into your account. Once they have your information they use it for identity theft.

Digital Journal note: If you are in the UK and you believe you have been contacted by a romance scammer report it to ActionFraud.

Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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