Valentine’s Day: Romance Scams on the Rise!

News and information from the Advent IM team.

Dating apps are increasing in popularity year by year, which means that there’s more people available for scammers to target. But first and foremost, what is a romance scam?

It is a type of scam that involves a fraudster building a (false) personal relationship with their victim, only to ask them for money – to which people fall for.

According to Lloyds Bank, the number of people that fell for a romance scam in 2023 had increased by 22% from the previous year! In this blog, we’re going to discuss how you could help reduce this percentage for 2024 and one story that involved a ‘romance scam.’

What to do & What not to do

If you’re using a dating app there’s a high chance you’re going to encounter a fake profile, but here’s some tips on how you can avoid being part of their fraudulent schemes.

Look for red flags: If someone is pictured to be living the luxurious life most of us want to live, don’t be blinded by the fact that your new match could be a catfish. This doesn’t mean every rich person is a catfish of course, but the use of professional images and perfectly crafted profile is enough to raise suspicion over them.

Background Check: According to NYPost, in 2023 only 20% of people did background research on their dates. This is alarmingly low. Whilst it can be frowned upon and seen as ‘stalking’, would you rather save yourself from falling for a scammer or just not look good in the eyes of some idiots? This is someone you could potentially spend the rest of your life with, so even a quick google search of their name or reverse image search is enough to confirm if they’re real or not.

Reveal *Too much* Personal Information: When meeting new people for the first time you wouldn’t tell them your life story… so don’t do it online either! This gives scammers the chance to perform fraud in your name, as they have access to your information such as, address, phone number, images, etc.

Approach a friend: If you have any suspicion over your new match, then get a second opinion on it. Your friends are there to provide a neutral opinion, as they wouldn’t have been manipulated, as you possibly could have. And if there are obvious red flags that they point out and you didn’t pick up on, then it’s best to stick with what they’re saying.

The Tinder Swindler

In 2022, Netflix released a very popular mini documentary titled ‘The Tinder Swindler’, where we followed the story of a victim to a romance scam. The journey begins with the lady explaining her initial attraction to the man’s profile, as he was pictured on private jets, living in Dubai, etc. We later see how she was manipulated by the guy, as he showered her with compliments and offered to buy her nice things.

This is a HUGE Red Flag. Baring in mind that the two have not even met, they’ve exchanged text messages and a couple voice notes – you should not be easily manipulated by such people. In this instance, the scammer was taking advantage of the lady through manipulation tactics – building up a fake relationship.

Fast forwarding to the scam, the fraudster claimed that his accounts have been locked and needs to borrow $200,000. At this point in the story she has now met the man, and thanks to the relationship they’ve built up over the past year, she fell for it.

This isn’t even a red flag, it is common sense. If you’ve met up with someone a number of times that you can count on one hand, it’s probably best you don’t send them nearly a quarter of million dollars!

He would then use this money to go partying and spend it on more private jets to pick new women up in, enticing more possible victims. Eventually the man was caught and sentenced to 15 months in prison but released after 5 months due to good behaviour. He claims that he’s now making ‘a hell of a lot more money thanks to Netflix’ and, ironically, the victims still haven’t been compensated.


This ‘Tinder Swindler’ example could have been avoided through background research and not living in dreamland. Whilst the scammer certainly went through an extraordinary length to convince the lady that they were real, ignoring obvious signs such as the perfect profile, is huge to not fall victim to the scam.

To conclude, the number of romance scams occurring each year is increasing. There’s various tactics used to be successful in a scam, including the build up of a relationship. It’s down to you to not fall victim, and this can be easy to achieve as long as you setup rules/guidelines for yourself. This can include refusing to send money to a ‘date’ – regardless if they’re real or not, performing a simple background check, or even refusing to send any personal information until after a first date.

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