The power of love: the romance scam continues

According to research from dating platform eharmony and the Imperial College Business School, by 2035 more than 50% of relationships will begin online. Despite the positives that can come with online dating, an increase in its adoption could also be reflected by an increase in romance fraud. 

According to Barclays, the amount of romance scam victims lost has increased 60 percent in the last six months, with the average sitting at £10,000. What’s more, more than a third of Britons have been targeted by romance scammers or at least know someone who has. 

Although the traditional tactic of getting victims to purchase gift cards or asking for a simple bank transfer for quick access to money still exists, a tactic growing in popularity amongst romance fraudsters is crypto scams. 

This piece will discuss how firms are communicating amidst this trend.

What’s the industry doing to combat the scams?

Law enforcement, vendors and individuals in the fraud-prevention industry are doing their part in spreading awareness and trying to prevent people falling victim to fraud.

In its warning around a rise in cryptocurrency scams, the FBI shared a list of tips for consumers on how to protect themselves, including:

Do not release any financial or personal identifying information (PII) or send any money if an unknown individual contacts you; and do not invest per the advice of someone you meet solely online.

In relation to an increase in crypto scams specifically, NatWest has imposed a daily and 30-day limit on payments from customer accounts to cryptocurrency exchanges, in a bid to reduce their exposure to crypto fraud. The bank claimed that £329m was lost by British consumers to such scams last year. 

Meanwhile, individuals like Becky Holmes, are scamming the scammers and exposing their tactics when it comes to romance fraud. She advises that the main scams involve them pretending to be on an oil rig or deployed in the military, usually in the Middle East, or they may say that “they’re a doctor or a surgeon working in a war zone.” 

She also warns that scammers will “normally steer you away from chatting on a legitimate dating site that staff could monitor. They want you to talk on email, text and phone, rather than through the dating site or chatroom where you met.”

These examples are just a snapshot of some of the work organisations, industry bodies and individuals are doing to spread awareness with the aim of preventing people falling victim to fraud. There’s also a number of companies conducting research into the trend – like those snippets shared above – as well as providing educational content in the form of webinars, blogs and PR activity such as expert media interviews and thought leadership to ensure their message reaches as many people as possible. 

Furthermore, while awareness and advice of how to avoid fraud is helpful, people who fall victim need support after the event. Alongside banks providing support to their customers, an example of a company helping victims is Cystel. The cybersecurity company provides a scam checking service on its website, where people can fill in information on the type of scam they think they’ve fallen victim to and receive personalised assistance in the form of support and even, potentially, recovery. 

It’s positive to see the industry boosting awareness and education around romance scams, however, with 25,000 romance scammers online at any one time, and the increase of social media use and online dating only increasing, the threat is one both companies and individuals need to be on high alert for. 

If you’re an organisation who wants to join the initiative to help the fight against fraud but don’t know where to start when it comes to communicating your message, get in touch with our communications experts today. 

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