Dating a scammer
When looking for romance online, you could instead be talking to a scammer. These are called romance scams. Know the warning signs and how to keep your money safe when dating online.
Published on: 24 January 2023
What are romance scams?
Online dating can be a great way to find your perfect partner. But these apps and websites can be exploited by scammers.
Over time, scammers build online relationships based on trust and do what they can to make people think this is the real thing.
Eventually, they start asking for money. And they use emotional manipulation and exploitation to lure people in.
They claim the money is for anything from medical fees for a sick parent to travel money to come visit you. These are lies. They are not who they say they are.
Can we get your money back?
The scammer will often disappear after they get the money. The messages stop, their profile goes away.
If you’ve already sent money, contact us for help straight away. Keep anything that could be used as evidence.
How big a problem are romance scams?
They are a huge problem for online dating.
In a survey by UK Finance from February 2020 (opens in a new window), 21% of people who used online dating said they had been asked for money by, or had given money to, someone they met online.
Romance scams are also on the rise. Between January and November 2020, romance scams increased by 20% and a total of £18.5 million was lost to these scams (source: UK Finance report (opens in a new window)).
How to keep your money safe
Keep your conversations on trustworthy dating apps and websites
Scammers try to take your interactions outside the big dating apps and websites. They encourage you to use private emails, phone calls and instant messaging. These cannot be easily tracked and are not as secure.
Do not let money come into your online relationship
This includes sending and accepting money. Meet them in person and get to know them. Giving lots of reasons for why they cannot meet up is a warning sign. They’re trying to hide. And if they ask for money, always walk away.
Research the people you meet online
If things start to become serious, it’s OK to look up this person a bit more. Are they on other social network websites? Can you confirm what they’ve told you about where they work or live or what their life circumstances are? The Police recommend (opens in a new window) doing a reverse image search (opens in a new window) on their photos. Scammers re-use images of other people they find online.
Run it by friends and family
Often, scammers will try and make your relationship a secret between the 2 of you. Talk about your relationship with friends and family you trust. They may spot something suspicious.
Be wary of how they talk to you
Scammers often use scripts and work on multiple victims at a time. They avoid using your name and instead use general terms like honey, babe or angel. There may also be inconsistencies in their stories. It’s OK to be suspicious.
For more useful tips, please read Crimestoppers’ guide to spotting a romance scammer.
How we can help
If you’re making a payment from your Nationwide current account to someone else in the UK and you're not sure about it, you can talk to us about it first. This can be a payment in branch, on our Banking app or Internet Bank, or through Open Banking. This is our Scam Checker Service. Some payments are excluded.
Stop. Challenge. Protect
We're proud to be supporting the industry fraud awareness campaign Take Five, which encourages you to perfect the art of saying NO to criminals by taking five minutes to Stop, Challenge, Protect.
Criminals are experts at impersonating people, organisations and the police so it can be difficult to spot scam texts, emails and phone calls. However, there are things we can all do to protect ourselves.
Always remember to challenge if someone contacts you asking for your personal or financial information – be direct and say NO. Saying NO can feel uncomfortable but it’s OK to reject, refuse or ignore requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.
About this page
The content displayed on our recent news and articles page is for information purposes only, and is accurate at the time of publication. The information will not be maintained, and so we cannot guarantee that at any given time the information will be up to date or complete. Please verify any information you take before relying on it.
Nationwide is not responsible for the content or availability of external websites. Nationwide does not make any recommendation or endorse any advertising, products, services or other content on such external websites. Views expressed on third party websites are those of the public and unless specifically stated, are not those of Nationwide.