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With many celebrating Valentine’s Day, Lloyds Bank is issuing a fraud warning due to the number of romance scams increasing by more than 16% over the last year.

According to the data, the average amount lost to each victim is now £8,655 – slightly more than the previous year at £8,610.

Although those who are most at risk of romance scams tend to be over the age of 45, younger generations are also falling victim.

For example, last year an average of £2,128 was lost by those aged between 18-24; those aged 25-34 lost an average of £3,193.

Lloyds’ top tips to keep yourself safe:

  • Don’t send money to someone you’ve never met in real life.
  • Look out for someone using professional quality photos as these could’ve been stolen from social media accounts of models or celebrities.
  • Keep your personal details private. This includes personal banking details, card information or log-ins to financial websites.
  • Don’t move money for someone else – scammers try to fool people into moving the proceeds of crime around for them (‘money muling’). You can still be prosecuted even if you weren’t aware of moving illegal funds.

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Liz Ziegler, Fraud Prevention Director at Lloyds Bank, said, “Romance scam victims don’t just lose thousands of pounds, they also have to deal with emotional betrayal, as callous scammers build relationships with victims under a veil of apparent trust and care. Their convincing back stories mean their victims think they are falling in love, when they’re actually falling for a scam.

“There’s no genuine connection when it comes to romance scams, with fraudsters targeting multiple victims at a time, and disappearing as soon as they think they’ve got as much cash out of each of their victims as they can.

“It’s vital that people are able to spot the warning signs. If you’ve started an online relationship and the discussion turns to money – regardless of the reason or the amounts involved – this should be a big red flag that you’re about to get scammed. Talking to a real life friend or family member can be a good way to sense check what’s going on.”

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