For love AND money: ‘rom-cons’ costing love-struck Brits thousands

17 October 2018
  • One in three romance scams (37%) results in losses of more than £5,000
  • Those aged 45-64 are most at risk, representing more than half (55%) of all reported cases
  • Almost half of daters (43%) admit they will trust someone just two weeks after meeting online
  • Barclays issues warning to help love-seekers better protect themselves against romance scams

London, 17 October 2018: Brits looking for love are at risk of losing thousands of pounds to ‘rom-cons’, according to new research from Barclays. The data revealed that one in three romance scams (37%) results in losses of more than £5,000, more than five-times the UK’s average monthly rent[1]. Almost two-thirds of cases (57%) result in losses of at least £2,000.

Barclays is issuing a new warning against the dangers of romance scams, which occur when someone is convinced to make a payment to a person they have met online and believe they are in a relationship with, to help individuals better protect themselves when online dating.

The Barclays data shows it’s those aged 45-64 who are leaving themselves most vulnerable to the work of scammers. Only 45% undertake basic checks to ensure the dating sites they are using are reputable, while only 42% will not meet a potential partner in person until feeling confident they are trustworthy. Because of this, these ‘Baby-boomers’ now represent more than half (55%) of all reported instances of romance scams.

But it’s not just Baby-boomers who need to take greater care when looking for love. Almost half of daters (43%) admit they would trust someone after speaking through a dating site for just two weeks, even prior to meeting them. Interestingly, men are likely to trust a potential partner much sooner with more than half (53%) saying that they would trust someone up to two weeks after they start talking, compared to a third of women (33%).

Two-fifths (41%) of those who have used a dating site within the last five years believe the best way to judge a potential partner’s trustworthiness is through what they say in texts and emails.

Bad romance

To help Brits become more aware of how to stay safe when using online dating sites, Barclays has identified the top five behaviours likely to put individuals at greater risk:

1.         Judging someone’s character by their social media profile – 26% of people believe that the best way to judge whether someone is trustworthy is their social media profile, compared to just 13% who say they are most influenced by an individual’s past marital status 

2.         Judging someone’s character by their job – 21% of people would judge someone based on what kind of job they claim to have, with people working as a doctor or teacher deemed to be the most trustworthy

3.         Throwing caution to the wind when meeting someone for the first time – one in ten people do not carry out any basic checks before meeting a potential partner for the first time, with only 38% admitting that they would search a potential partner’s name or username online to check their reputability  

4.         Judging the reliability of a website by its appearance – Almost half (45%) of daters do not check the reputability of the sites they are using before meeting someone in person.

5.         Trusting someone too soon – 51% of people would trust someone after meeting them once, with another one in ten (11%) admitting they would lend a potential partner money to help pay for rent after just three dates

Jodie Gilbert, Barclays Head of Digital Safety, said: “Whilst millions of us take to dating websites and apps to find true love, criminals are getting ready to pounce on anyone who lets their guard down. We must all remain aware whilst looking for the warning signs, such as someone asking you to help them out of an ‘unfortunate situation’ by sending money.”

Barclays’ top tips for preventing romance scams

1.   When connecting with people online, get to know them and trust your instincts. Act with caution and learn more about someone before contacting him or her outside of the dating site

2.   Take your time, especially when talking about yourself. You don’t need to give out your life-story the first time you chat – and you shouldn’t

3.   Be responsible and do your own research to learn more about someone and make informed decisions before you decide to meet. Check to see if the person you’re interested in is on other social networking, do a web search to see if there are other records of the person online, and if possible, use a search engine search to check the profile photos

4.   Always keep your bank and account information private. There is no reason for anyone to ask you for money or your financial information

5.   Report unacceptable or suspicious behaviour, trust your instincts and immediately stop communicating with anyone who makes you feel uncomfortable or apprehensive

For more details on how to stay safe, visit www.barclays.co.uk/security

Barclays backs Take Five to Stop Fraud – a national campaign from UK Finance and Government offering straight-forward advice to help everyone prevent financial fraud.

[1] Countrywide, 2017

Barclays data on reported scams is from April 2017 – June 2018.

Additional research was carried out online by Opinium across a total of 2,009 consumers who have used a dating site or app in the last 5 years from 21st-28th September 2018.

Alex Rowe


07384 235342

Lucy Hopkins