38% of people looking for love online ‘have been asked for money’

UK Finance’s Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign and the Online Dating Association are urging people to watch out for criminals posing as online daters.

11 February 2022

Nearly two in five (38%) people who have dated someone online in the past year were asked for money – despite having never met in person.

The findings were released as people looking for love this Valentine’s Day (February 14) are being warned to be alert to scammers.

UK Finance’s Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign and the Online Dating Association are urging people to watch out for criminals posing as online daters.

Katy Worobec, managing director of economic crime at UK Finance, said: “Don’t let it be money at first sight this Valentine’s Day. If you’re ever asked for cash from someone you’ve never met in person then alarm bells should start ringing – it could be a scam.”

More than half (57%) of those asked to give or lend money by someone they had met online did so, the survey of more than 2,300 people across the UK found.

Paying for an emergency, covering travel costs and making an investment were the three most common “reasons” why people were asked for cash.

The average cash request was for £345, although 6% asked for more than £1,000.

Fraudsters may try to make contact through dating sites, social media or gaming platforms.

They often ask their target to move the conversation off the platform where they met and use a different messaging service so they cannot be monitored or easily reported.

According to a separate survey by the Online Dating Association, 58% of people would continue messaging someone who was reluctant to meet in person or by video call after a few conversations.

This should be a red flag as it may indicate the person is not who they claim to be.

In the first half of last year alone more than £15 million was lost to romance scams, according to UK Finance’s figures.

Dr Hannah Shimko, from the Online Dating Association, said: “Online daters should be aware of the actions fraudsters will use to manipulate them into parting with their money.

“This Valentine’s Day, take the time to think about the person behind the profile, get to know your date, and don’t send money to someone you’ve only met online.”

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