New statistics released ahead of Valentine’s Day prove that the UK is continuing to lose huge amounts of money to romance fraud – with victims conned out of £41 million in 2017 alone. This is according to figures from The City of London Police, whose remit covers online fraud nationwide, working with Get Safe Online and its partners.
Romance fraud is described as when someone creates a fake identity to enter into a relationship with a victim with the intent to steal either funds or personal information. In 2017, 3557 romance frauds were reported to Action Fraud, averaging 10 reports a day. Cases in Portugal unknown.
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This amount equates to £11,500 per victim. Those who fall victim to these frauds are almost twice as likely to be women (63% compared with 37% of men).
However, evidence suggests these numbers do not accurately represent the true scale of the problem due to the embarrassment felt by some victims of fraud, which can discourage people from coming forward to report their experience. But reporting is crucial in stopping these fraudsters whose impact extends beyond just taking the money.
Almost half (43%) of victims said that the crime had a ‘significant’ impact on their health or financial wellbeing.
A further 18% had to receive medical treatment as a result of being a victim of a romance scam – or had been left at risk of bankruptcy.