Beat the online romance scammers

In the past year people in the UK have lost over £31.3m in romance scams.

 Dedicated teams of criminals and individuals are targeting lonely hearts through dating sites and social media, building up a relationship or friendship over time.

Then, once they have a connection, they’ll ask their victim to send money to them. And they’ll always have a good-sounding reason, using plausible excuses like these:
“My account’s frozen, and I can’t access my money”

“I’m working overseas”

“I’m working on an oil rig“

“I’ve been arrested”

“My family member is sick”

“I’m struggling with medical bills“

New research from Santander shows almost a third (31%) of people in the UK have been targeted by a romance scammer. More than four in five (83%) who fell victim to a romance scam said it was either the clever language the criminals use, the way they were spoken to, or the intimate conversations they had with the scammer.

But what do you do if you begin to suspect you are being scammed? There are some ways that you can try and keep yourself safe and protect your assets.


They may just send you another generic photo like the ones in their profile, but if you give a more specific request, then you may be able to prove that they’re scamming you.

You can ask them to send a picture of them next to a current newspaper or a screen with today’s date on it. That way, they can prove that they are taking the picture that day instead of stealing it from someone else. You could also ask them to send a photo of themselves doing a specific action, such as sticking out their tongue or touching their nose.

If they cannot send a picture with one of these specific actions, then it is safe to assume that they are not who they say they are. However, they will still try to trick you by making up excuses for not being able to send these photos.


You can never be completely sure about someone if you’ve never met them in person. So, if you are suspicious of someone you’re talking to online, you can suggest meeting in a public setting.

Even though they were probably very forward before, they will likely come up with any excuse they can to not have to meet you there. They may even suggest somewhere more obscure to meet, but do not fall for this. If you have never met this person before, make sure you only meet them in a place that you know is safe.

If they just keep coming up with more excuses every time you decide to meet, no matter how real their answers might seem, they are likely just trying to get something from you without having to actually interact with you in person.


Since scammers want to gain your trust and get you to like them right away, they may just agree with a lot of things you say. They will claim to have the same interests as you, so they won’t really reveal anything unique about themselves.

Therefore, if they claim to like something that you like, ask them about it. Also, ask them personal questions that require a detailed answer.

If they respond with general answers to everything, then you can assume that they are not telling the truth.


Scammers will want to move conversations off the dating site as soon as possible. As soon as they feel like they’ve gained your trust, they will ask for a phone number or email. If you have any doubts about them, then you should refuse to do this. Never reveal any personal information or share any identity documents with someone you have just met online as this can lead to identity theft and blackmailing.

 Tell them that you want to stay on the dating app until you can get to know them better or tell them you don’t want to move to a new form of communication or reveal other personal information until you’ve met them in person.  


No matter how sincere they may seem, if someone that you just met online asks you to send money, do not go through with it. Instead, tell them no and see how they react.

They may try to make more excuses or add more of a sob story as to why they need the money, but keep telling them no. If they can’t get what they want from you, then their tone will likely change and they will lash out at you. This is when who they really are will start to show and you will know that you have for sure been tricked.

If they start to threaten you, do not fall for their tricks. If you feel you are in danger, contact the authorities immediately without giving the scammer what they want.


If all else fails, the easiest thing to do is to stop interacting with this scammer. If you are unable to prove that they are tricking you, but something still seems off, then it is fine to just cut all forms of contact with them.

Block them so that they will be unable to keep reaching out to you, and don’t give them warning before you do it. If you ever feel unsafe while talking to someone online, the best thing to do is to just get out of that situation as quickly as possible. Not all scammers can easily be outsmarted, so don’t get discouraged if you just have to leave the situation.

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