The average financial loss for victims of romance scams is nearly £12,000, according to data from Britain’s biggest building society.
Typical losses to romance scams have more than doubled, from £4,720 in 2021 to £11,796 in 2022, Nationwide Building Society said.
Men falling victim lost £9,057 on average to such scams last year and women lost £14,803 typically, according to the society.
Scammers create fake profiles on dating websites and social media and spend time building trust with people looking for a relationship before asking for cash.
The society added that fewer Nationwide members were reporting being the victim of such scams, which may be due to people being more aware of them.
Romance scammers can be very convincing in getting someone looking for love or feeling lonely to give them their trust, personal details and ultimately their money, even when they haven't physically met each otherJim Winters, Nationwide Building Society
The number of romance scams reported to the Society in 2022 fell by 17% compared with 2021.
There was an 80-year age gap between the youngest and oldest victims of romance scams reported to Nationwide.
People who had fallen for romance scams were aged between 14 and 94, according to the Society’s date covering the past two years.
Nationwide has a scam checker service for members, enabling them to check an electronic payment they are worried about, either in branch or by calling 0800 030 4057.
For those using this service, if the payment goes ahead and the member is subsequently scammed, unless Nationwide told the member not to proceed, they will be fully reimbursed.
Jim Winters, director of economic crime at Nationwide Building Society, said: “While it’s good to see incidents declining, it’s worrying to see average amounts on the rise as criminals double down on their victims.
“They can be very convincing in getting someone looking for love or feeling lonely to give them their trust, personal details and ultimately their money, even when they haven’t physically met each other.”
The figures were released as TSB said that, according to its data, people aged 51 to 65 accounted for nearly half of the amount of money reported lost to romance fraud in 2022.
The bank, which has a fraud refund guarantee, found that people in this age group collectively spent by far the most money on their “relationships”, meaning this age group accounted for 46% of financial losses to romance scams.
In further signs of the impacts of fraud generally, Santander UK said on Thursday that it had continued to see a rise in scams, with increased fraud charges of £153 million in 2022 – more than double the £74 million recorded in 2021.