Spot and Avoid Romance Scams UK | How To Protect Yourself From Fraudsters

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In today’s digital age, finding love and companionship online has become increasingly common. However, the rise of online dating has also brought a surge in romance scams UK.

As heartbreaking as it is, these scams can leave victims emotionally and financially devastated. So, how can you protect yourself from these fraudsters who prey on unsuspecting individuals looking for love?

In this blog post, we’ll delve into the world of romance scams, identify the red flags, and provide tips on how to avoid falling victim to these heartbreaking schemes.

Key takeaways – Romance scams UK

  • Romance scams are a form of deception which can affect anyone and understanding the motives, methods, and consequences is key to protection.

  • Identifying red flags such as inconsistent stories or requests for financial help helps to protect against becoming a victim.

  • Staying informed through reporting frauds, supporting victims & seeking advice from organisations/forums provides valuable information on romance fraud prevention.

Understanding Romance Scams in the UK

Woman using online dating app on laptop, unaware she has become a victim of a romance scam UK

Romance scams are a sinister form of deception where fraudsters mislead individuals into believing they are in a genuine relationship, only to take advantage of them financially or steal their personal information.

These scams have become more sophisticated and frequent in recent years, preying on people’s emotions and vulnerabilities. Anyone can be affected by a romance scam, regardless of their intelligence or educational background. Recognising the warning signs and implementing protective measures is a key step to avoiding these fraudsters.

Understanding the nature of romance scams involves examining the motives behind them, how fraudsters operate, and the impact they have on their victims. In the following sections, we will explore these aspects in detail, equipping you with the knowledge to avoid falling victim to these heartbreaking schemes.

The motives behind romance fraud

Romance fraudsters often target vulnerable women and individuals seeking love and companionship, exploiting their emotions and trust to achieve their nefarious goals.

The primary motivation behind these scams is financial gain, as fraudsters manipulate their victims into sending them money or providing access to their bank accounts and personal information.

Grasping these motives enhances your ability to safeguard yourself and maintain vigilance in online relationships.

How romance fraudsters operate

Romance scammers are cunning and employ various tactics to deceive their unsuspecting victims too. They often:

  • Create fake profiles on dating sites and apps or contact people through social media platforms

  • Use attractive photos and persuasive stories to lure them in

  • Gain their victim’s trust

  • Create fabricated crises to extract money or manipulate them into providing personal and financial information.

Awareness of these tactics is vital to identifying potential scams and shielding yourself from these remorseless criminals.

The impact on victims

The consequences of romance scams can be devastating for victims, both emotionally and financially. Victims often experience a wide range of emotions, such as shock, embarrassment, shame, guilt, anger, and depression.

They may also suffer significant financial losses, including the money sent to the scammer and the cost of legal fees, counseling, and other associated expenses.

Comprehending the impact of these scams on victims highlights the need for preventive measures and staying updated to prevent being a target.

Identifying red flags and warning signs

Woman is sitting with glass of wine in front of laptop and talking on video call with man.

Identifying the warning signs and red flags of a potential romance scam is fundamental in safeguarding yourself from becoming a victim. Experienced scammers often use convincing stories and tactics to draw in their victims, so being aware of these red flags can help you stay vigilant and avoid being deceived.

Spotting inconsistencies in their stories or excuses, noticing their avoidance of video chat, and exercising caution when they request financial help or personal details can strengthen your defense against these malicious schemes. Let’s take a closer look at these warning signs in the following sections.

Inconsistent stories or excuses

One sign of a potential scammer is inconsistent stories or excuses that don’t add up. Fraudsters often go to great lengths to create a believable backstory, but they may slip up and reveal inconsistencies in their narrative. Paying attention to such inconsistencies, asking questions for clarity, and seeking patterns can help you detect potential scammers and guard against their schemes.

Instant messaging and avoiding video chat

Scammers frequently rely on instant messaging and avoid video chat to maintain their deception. Some red flags to watch out for include:

  • Being overly eager to move the conversation off the dating site or app onto another platform

  • Strongly resisting or refusing video calls

  • Having online profiles that seem too perfect or use stolen photos

Recognizing these tactics and insisting on video chat can assist in verifying the individual’s identity and bypassing romance scams.

Requests for financial help or personal details

Another red flag is when someone asks for financial help or personal details early in the relationship. Scammers may use persuasive stories or create a sense of urgency to manipulate their victims into sending money or divulging sensitive information.

Exercising caution when confronted with such requests is necessary, as they could signal a potential scam.

Trust your instincts and don’t hesitate to seek advice from friends, family, or authorities if something feels off.

Safeguarding yourself in online dating

Beautiful young woman sitting on the floor by the bed, holding laptop computer in her lap, chatting using online dating site

Although online dating can be a fantastic connection avenue, safeguarding yourself from potential hazards, including romance scams, is paramount. By taking the necessary precautions and staying informed, you can greatly reduce your risk of falling victim to these scams.

In the following sections, we’ll discuss tips for safeguarding yourself in online dating, such as ensuring a secure website and connection, using reverse image search to verify profiles, and limiting the sharing of personal information.

Secure www and site connection

browsing safely and securely 2023 01 10 21 04 37 utc
Browsing safely and securely.

Securing a safe website and connection when utilising dating sites is vital for guarding against potential scams and identity theft. Look for a secure connection (HTTPS) and a padlock icon in the address bar. Additionally, be sure to review the date or website’s privacy policy and terms of use to understand how your data is collected, stored, and used.

Utilising secure and reputable dating sites is a great way to avoid romance scams, reducing your chances of becoming a victim.

Reverse image search and verifying profiles

Reverse image search is a powerful tool that can help you verify the authenticity of a profile by searching for the profile picture on facebook or other websites. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Upload the profile picture to a reverse image search engine.

  2. Copy and paste the URL of the image into a reverse image search engine.

  3. Check if the image appears on other websites.

If the image does appear on other websites, it may indicate a fake profile.

In addition to reverse image search, be cautious of any inconsistencies in the profiles, such as different names or locations, and verify the person’s online presence on social media sites.

Limiting the sharing of personal information

Restricting the quantity of personal information shared with potential matches is crucial for safeguarding yourself from identity theft and other scams. Here are some tips to follow:

  • Avoid sharing your full name

  • Avoid sharing your address

  • Avoid sharing your phone number

  • Avoid sharing other sensitive information

Only share this information when you are sure the person is who they claim to be.

Be wary of requests for money or other financial information and always trust your instincts when it comes to sharing personal details with someone you’ve met online.

Learn how to protect yourself from becoming a victim of Vinted scammers, read our informative blogpost

Financial precautions and protection

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Successful freelancer working online in office. Focused businesswoman typing laptop computer surfing internet. Focused executive business analyst making financial strategy report at panorama window.

It’s vital to exercise financial caution when participating in online dating to shield yourself from potential scams. By being cautious with requests to receive money, never sending money or sharing bank account information, and contacting your bank immediately if you suspect fraud, you can minimise the risk of falling victim to romance scams.

Let’s explore these financial details and precautions in more detail in the following sections, so you can confidently navigate the world of online dating without fear of financial loss.

Never send money or share bank account information

A cardinal rule of online dating is to refrain from sending money or sharing bank account details with individuals met online. Scammers may use persuasive stories or create a sense of urgency to manipulate their victims into sending money or divulging sensitive information.

If you believe something to be wrong or fraudulent, it’s best to contact your bank right away and report the incident to the dating website or app you were using.

Contact your bank immediately if you suspect fraud

If you have suspicions about being a fraud victim, immediate contact with your bank or credit card company is paramount. They can assist you in freezing or canceling any affected accounts to prevent further unauthorised transactions and help you take steps to ensure your personal information remains secure, such as changing your passwords and security questions.

Additionally, it’s essential to report the incident to the appropriate authorities, such as Action Fraud in the UK or your local law enforcement agency.

Be cautious with requests to receive money

Exercise caution when asked to receive money from someone you’ve met online. Unusual or secretive transactions, sudden changes in instructions, and urgent requests may indicate potential fraud or money laundering activities.

To ensure the legitimacy of such requests, follow these steps:

  1. Research the person or company making the request.

  2. Look for potential warning signs, such as suspicious email addresses or requests for personal information.

  3. Request additional information or documentation to verify the validity of the request.

By taking these precautions and ensuring a secure proceeding, you can protect yourself from potential scams or fraudulent requests.

Reporting romance scams and supporting victims

Concerned woman reporting a Romance Scam UK to the authorities

If you or an acquaintance has been targeted by a romance scammer, reporting the incident and extending support to the victim during this tumultuous period is crucial.

Reporting scams can help authorities track down the fraudsters and prevent them from targeting others, while offering emotional support to the victim can make a significant difference in their recovery process.

In the following sections, we’ll discuss how to report romance scams and support those who have fallen victim to them, including:

  • Reporting to dating websites

  • Reporting to Action Fraud

  • Contacting Police Scotland directly (if applicable)

  • Helping friends and family who have been affected.

Reporting to dating websites and Action Fraud

If you have fallen prey to scamming, fraud, or any form of cybercrime, reporting the incident to the appropriate authorities like Action Fraud in the UK, or your local law enforcement is significant. You can report fraud to Action Fraud online or by phone, providing as much information as possible, including any evidence you may have.

Additionally, notify the dating site or social networking platform where you encountered the scammer, as they may be able to take steps to prevent the fraudster from targeting others.

Learn to protect yourself from phone scams, read our informative blogpost and protect yourself.

Contacting Police Scotland directly (if applicable)

In certain cases, it may be necessary to contact Police Scotland directly to report a romance scam. You can reach Police Scotland by:

  • Phone at 101 for non-emergencies or dial 999 in case of an emergency

  • If you are calling from outside the UK, the number is +44 (0) 141 308 1070

  • They also have an SMS 999 text system for those who are Deaf, hard of hearing, or have communication difficulties.

Reporting the incident to the police aids in bringing the fraudster to justice and halting their pursuit of other potential victims.

Helping friends and family who have fallen victim

Supporting friends and family who have been targeted by romance scammers can make a significant difference in their recovery process. Offer a listening ear and provide emotional support, allowing them to share their feelings and worries without judgment.

Encourage them to report the scam to the appropriate authorities and their bank, and help them take steps to secure their personal and financial information. Remember, the emotional impact of a romance scam can be just as devastating as the financial loss, so your support and understanding can be invaluable during this difficult time.

Staying informed and educated

A person talking to a police officer

Staying updated and knowledgeable about romance scams can assist you and others in evading these distressing schemes. By familiarising yourself with the tactics and red flags associated with romance scams, you can better protect yourself and those you care about.

In the following sections, we’ll discuss resources and tools to help you stay informed and educated about romance scams, including UK checking and monitoring organisations, online forums and support groups, and educational materials and workshops.

UK checking and monitoring organisations

Numerous UK organizations including the Regulation Monitoring Organisations, the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) Evaluation Partners, and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), are committed to tracking and fighting romance scams.

These organisations play an essential role in ensuring online safety and security, evaluating and certifying products and services, and providing a safe environment for consumers.

Acquainting yourself with these organisations and their resources enhances your defense against romance scams and keeps you updated on the latest threats.

Online forums and support groups

Participating in online forums and support groups can provide invaluable resources and support for victims of romance scams and those looking to protect themselves from these schemes.

Forums and support groups such as Our Watch, Advocating for U, and The Coalition offer advice, guidance, and emotional support for those affected by romance fraud.

Joining these groups can help you gain insight from others who have gone through similar life experiences and learn from their stories and advice.

Educational materials and workshops

Utilizing educational materials and workshops can help you learn more about romance scams and how to protect yourself. Some resources to consider are:

  • ‘Romance Fraud eBook’ by Thames Valley Police

  • ‘Romance Fraud Awareness Guide’ by Thames Valley Police

  • ‘Romance Fraud and Cyber Awareness Webinar’ by ERVAS

  • ‘Friends Against Scams Training’ by Friends Against Scams

These resources offer valuable information and guidance on romance fraud protection.

Leveraging these resources will keep you updated and knowledgeable about the newest tactics employed by scammers and teach you how to shield yourself and your loved ones from these distressing schemes.


In conclusion, romance scams are a heartbreaking reality in today’s digital age. However, by staying informed and educated about the tactics used by scammers, recognising red flags and warning signs, and taking necessary precautions, you can protect yourself and those you care about from falling victim to these schemes.

Remember, knowledge is power, and by arming yourself with this information, we promise you can navigate the world of online dating with confidence and security.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you tell a romance scammer?

Be wary of someone who is asking for personal questions, tries to bond quickly, or is requesting money for any reason. They may also try to move the conversation away from online dating platforms and avoid answering questions about themselves. Stay cautious and trust your instincts.

What do romance scams look like?

Romance scammers will encourage secrecy and try to isolate you, they’ll often have excuses about why they can’t meet in person or show themselves on camera. They may say they live overseas or their technology isn’t working, making it hard to trust them.

How do I know if I am talking to a scammer?

If you are suspicious that the offer is too good to be true, if someone contacts you unexpectedly, or if there is no physical home address being associated with the company, it may be a scam.

What should I do if I suspect I’ve been a victim of a romance scam?

Contact your bank and the authorities right away, and also report the incident to the dating website you were using. Take action quickly to protect yourself and prevent further damage.

What is love bombing?

Love bombing is a manipulative tactic used by individuals, typically in romantic relationships or cults, to gain control over their targets. It involves overwhelming the recipient with excessive affection, attention, and compliments to create a deep emotional bond. This tactic can be used to manipulate someone into feeling indebted, dependent, or obligated to the person employing the love bombing technique.

Useful external resoruces

  1. Action Fraud (National Fraud & Cyber Crime Reporting Centre)
  2. Citizens Advice Bureau
  3. Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)
    • FCA ScamSmart
    • Offers advice specifically on financial scams and how to avoid them.
  4. The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC)
    • NCSC Website
    • Offers guidance on online security, including protecting against online scams.
  5. Age UK
    • Age UK Website
    • Provides information particularly focused on older people, including how to avoid romance scams.
  6. The UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA)
    • NCA Website
    • Focuses on organized crime but also includes information on various types of scams
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With over three decades of experience in the heart of London’s financial sector, I have dedicated my career to the pursuit of robust cybersecurity practices and IT leadership. As a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), Certified Information Security Manager (CISM), Certified Chief Information Security Officer (C|CISO), Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), and Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator (CHFI), I bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the table.

My journey in the field of cybersecurity has not only been about personal growth but also about sharing my insights with others. As an international speaker, I have had the privilege of addressing audiences worldwide, discussing the importance of cybersecurity in today’s digital age. My passion for knowledge sharing extends to my work as an author and blogger, where I delve into the complexities of cybersecurity, offering practical advice and thought leadership.

In my role as a CISO and Head of IT, I have overseen the development and implementation of comprehensive information security and IT strategies. My focus has always been on creating resilient systems capable of withstanding the evolving landscape of cyber threats.

My Master’s degree in Cybersecurity has provided a solid academic foundation, which, when combined with my practical experience, allows me to approach cybersecurity from a holistic perspective.

I am always open to connecting with other professionals in the field, sharing knowledge, and exploring new opportunities. Let’s secure the digital world together.