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People on phones and walking, UK.
Reuters/Suzanne Plunkett
Easy targets.
MONEY WHERE YOUR HEART IS

Online dating scams are robbing people of tens of millions a year in the UK

By Cassie Werber

More and more people in the UK are getting conned out of large sums of money by scammers on dating services.

The UK’s National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, which has been tracking the problem for four years, says almost 4,000 people reported frauds in 2016. That’s probably a fraction of the real total because people who have lost money are often too embarrassed to report it, according to Action Fraud, a reporting and information service within the British police.

But most startling is size of each fraud. On average, each victim loses £10,000 ($12,400), Steve Proffitt, deputy head of Action Fraud, told the BBC. Overall, British people lost over £39 million ($48.6 million) in dating scams last year, the most recorded in four years.

Older people are likelier to fall victim to fraud. In 2015, 62% of those who fell for scams were over 40, and a quarter were aged 50-59.

Action Fraud’s advice is that people should never agree to send money to someone they’ve met on a dating site or app, or share financial details with them. They also suggest a raft of other self-protection measures, such as keeping one’s personal information secret, and communicating only through the dating platform—scammers will often try to move conversations quickly to other messaging services, email, or phone calls.