Barclays Bank recently unveiled the results of new research into the tendency of romance scams. This study involved data collected from the UK and shows trends that are legitimate concerns for people anywhere who use dating apps. With the number of cyber crimes like identity theft and love scams increasing, let’s take a look at the Barclays research and what it tells us.
Research Reveals Concerns for Older People
Before discussing the data, it is important to make sure we all understand what is meant by an online love scam. Love scams are a type of internet scam where people pretend to be in a romantic relationship or in love with a victim in order to extort money from them. After a sense of trust has been established, they will then ask for money.
No particular demographic is immune to love scams; however, the research from Barclays found that people in the age range of 51-60 years old are most at risk. In fact, this age demographic accounts for 35% of all money lost in these scams. This is particularly concerning given that this age group represents less than 18% of users. Thus, they account for nearly twice the proportion of money lost as their participation on platforms.
In addition to the age-related findings, Barclays noted that the average amount of money lost for an individual in a love scam is £4,090, a very high amount of money for someone to lose. This underscores the importance of working to stay vigilant against love scams which can occur via online dating scams, email fraud, or other ways online.
Warning Signs for Love Scams
This research shows that it is important for older demographics to familiarize themselves with the signs of a potential scammer. However, this is generally good information for anyone who spends time online as online dating scams can occur through dating apps or social media. Here are potential tips for detecting signs that someone has malicious intent and may be setting you up for a love scam.
Look at Profile Photos
Profile photos are a great way to get a sense that who you are speaking to may not be the person they claim. Someone with no photos or only one photo can be a red flag that you are talking to a catfish. Additionally, photos that appear overly professional are another potential cause for concern (although some genuine people do use professional photos on dating sites).
If you suspect a photo may be a cause for concern, simply do a reverse image search of the photo. This can let you know if they appear elsewhere online. If they do, it can be easy to determine that they have simply been taken from somewhere else to attempt fraud.
Do They Want You to Go Off the App?
Another key sign that the person you are messaging may be setting you up for identity theft or cybercrime is if they try to get you to go off of the app to continue conversing. This can take several shapes. They may try to exchange numbers or direct you to another platform such as What’s App. They can also send you links, which could be phishing scams.
Scammers will typically try to change the venue of the discussion in order to limit their possibility of being detected by the dating app as that would result in their account being disabled. Additionally, there are fewer protections when communicating in many other venues.
Is There Strange Behavior?
Strange or unusual behavior is another indicator of a love scam. Is the person declaring their love for you very early on? If so, they are likely attempting to set you up for manipulation. While love scams can develop over the course of time, many scammers will attempt to build up to the cybercrime within weeks or a few months.
If the person you are chatting with refuses to meet, this is another sign of an online dating scam. This is likely because they are not who they claim to be and are catfishing a user. Typically, the person will have what sounds like valid reasons for not meeting. However, this is such a common love scam sign that it should be viewed with high skepticism.
Avoid Love Scams with Healthy Skepticism
Understanding that love scams are a big industry for scammers, it is important that online daters view their interactions with a healthy dose of skepticism. Knowing the signs of potential scammers is important for avoiding identity theft and fraud. Meanwhile, if someone online asks for money – particularly in terms of an emergency or investment opportunity – you should view it as a red flag and consult someone like your bank or the authorities if you are not sure.