What are romance scams?

Romance scams happen when victims are deceived into ‘false’ relationships by fraudsters who aim to steal their money or personal information. Romance fraud is typically carried out by criminals using fake profiles.

All frauds require the offender to establish trust and rapport with the victim. In romance fraud, the victim believes there to be a genuine relationship. Techniques include attempts to build rapport with and gain the trust of the victim by claiming to adhere to the same religious faith or spiritual beliefs and articulating an intense desire for and attraction to the victim.

Types of romance fraud

  • ‘Foot-in-the door’ technique, in which the perpetrator initially asks for a small sum and, then having gained this small sum from the victim, manufactures new or escalating crises requiring larger and larger sums of money.

  • ‘Face-in-the-door’ technique, in which the perpetrator initially asks for a sum of money so extreme that most would refuse, followed by a request for a far more modest sum(s) to persuade the victim to part with their money.

Scammers can be experienced in spinning stories to lure in their victims. Phases of a romance scam normally tend to follow the pattern below:

  1. The victim being motivated to find an ideal partner

  2. The victim being presented with the ideal profile

  3. The grooming process

  4. The sting (crisis) - where the scammer needs money from the victim

  5. Continuation of the scam

  6. Potential sexual abuse

  7. Re-victimisation

If you’ve lost money to a romantic scammer or think that they may have stolen your personal information, you can contact Action Fraud, who treat reports in confidence.