Valentine’s Day 2023: Londoners lost over £14m to dating scams in 2022, full list of other areas

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Londoners have lost a total of £14.7 million to dating scams in 2021, according to a latest study.

Londoners are the most vulnerable to romance scams in the UK, a new study has found. According to the latest research by security service company Hicomply based on Freedom of Information data in 2022, Londoners lost a total of £14.7 million to dating scams, edging out other regions in the country.

The study said the amount made up 16% of total losses, with 1,088 dating scams reported to Action Fraud throughout the same period from Greater London alone. In total, 7,900 cases of romance fraud were reported, with victims losing a whopping £88 million to scammers.

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However, this figure is slightly lower than 2021, which saw a total 8,700 reports and an eye-watering £97.2m lost by Brits to scammers, meaning the reports in 2022 actually decreased by 11% and financial loss decreased by 9.5%.

Dating apps also accounted for just 11% of dating scam reports in 2022, likely due to the stricter measures apps are bringing in to verify user identities and prevent scams and catfishing, in addition to Britons becoming more scam-savvy.

According to the study, the number of reports that mentioned dating giant Tinder dropped by 33%, while mentions of Plenty of Fish dropped by 8%. Meanwhile, Hinge and Bumble both saw an increase in mentions, at 58% and 60% respectively. Despite this, reports that referenced dating apps saw an overall downward trend, dropping by 16% in 2022.

Dr Meera Sarma, CEO at cybersecurity solutions provider Cystel, said: “While on the surface the overall percentage of dating scams appear to be on a downward trend, the depth of crimes – use of dating platforms to spread disinformation, use of AI to create deep fakes and a trail of deep webs on social media to create a false sense of trust – is on the rise.

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“Scammers are turning to the dark web for ready-to-use tools, often selling information from the scams back to hackers on the dark web. In the past, users were advised to look for digital footprints of an individual for confirmation of authenticity, however, this is no longer sufficient.”

Full list of areas hardest hit by dating scams in 2022

  1. Greater London - 1,088 dating scams reported, £14.7 million lost
  2. Avon and Somerset - 227 dating scams reported, £5.5 million lost
  3. West Yorkshire - 290 dating scams reported, £3.3 million lost
  4. Thames Valley - 318 dating scams reported, £3.2 million lost
  5. Sussex - 251 dating scams reported, £3.1 million lost
Londoners lost over £14m to dating scams in 2022, full list of other areasLondoners lost over £14m to dating scams in 2022, full list of other areas
Londoners lost over £14m to dating scams in 2022, full list of other areas

How to detect dating scams

According to Dr Sarma, these are some of the things that one needs to look out for.

  1. Clicking on any innocuous link, even if it is seeking support for a cause close to your heart,  receiving a gift , tax relief  or any form of support.
  2. Relying on social media for confirmation of authenticity. Look for multiple sources for confirmation of identity, such as professional networks.
  3. Offers of tools/apps or websites that offer quick financial gains.

If you think you have been a victim of a romance scam, you should contact your bank immediately and report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or via their website.

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