Dating sites ‘riddled with scammers’ – report
The UK banking sector has experienced an “alarming” rise in the number of romance fraud cases during the Covid pandemic, with a 91% spike in losses compared to pre-pandemic levels, analysis by TSB Bank has found.
The research reveals that online platforms are driving romance fraud, with fake Facebook profiles leading to over a third of all incidents, while dating sites are “riddled with scammers” and were behind nearly a quarter of cases, the UK bank stated.
While the age range of those targeted varied from 18-year-olds to one person aged 77, data showed that female customers made up two-thirds of the victims, who lost an average of £6,300 ($8,542), compared with £4,600 ($6,237) for men.
“The past two years left people craving human connection, especially if they’d been living alone and feeling lonely while the rest of the world seemed coupled-up. Sadly it was the perfect storm that would inevitably result in a significant increase in digital fraud cases,” relationship coach and psychologist Sam Owen said in a press release from TSB.
The British bank warned that romance fraud “relationships” often see victims make repeat transactions, with an average of eight payments made to fraudsters. While the average “relationship” lasted for 62 days, the bank uncovered one instance where it had been going on for almost three years.
The latest figures released by UK Finance show that around 35% of funds lost through romance fraud is returned to victims, potentially leaving a large number of those affected out of pocket as a result of these criminal acts.
“Dating sites and social media can be a great way of meeting people and staying connected during the pandemic – but they’re also riddled with scammers, hoping to break your heart and your bank balance with cruel and complex tricks,” said Paul Davis, director of fraud prevention at TSB.