Scam: Don't be a victim

Romance fraud

A date from Tinderor a date with a Swindler?

Advice from Neighbourhood watch.

Many of us have been there before – that familiar buzz you get when you’ve found your perfect match online. It’s far from our job to burst your bubble, but have you ever been blinded by love? More often than not this can be harmless, yet more and more people are falling victim to a crime made famous by The Tinder Swindler Netflix documentary: romance fraud.

What is romance fraud?
Romance fraud is dating exclusively with the intention of persuading you to lend money or steal your identity. It often seeks to manipulate its victims through subtle tactics, outlined in Thames Valley Police’s Staying Safe from Romance Fraud. What follows is a summary of some of these strategies – which we will refer to as traps – and advice for how to keep you and your loved ones safe.


Have you ever been made to feel that you – and only you – can solve a challenging problem, but that time is running out? When a sense of urgency is created, a victim of romance fraud can be panicked into acting quickly without thinking – for example, to save their partner’s business or to pay for their medical treatment. It is in these vulnerable moments that
romance fraudsters use guilt and a prospect of limited time to extract funds from their victims.


Scammers like secrecy. They like to isolate their victims from their families and from anyone who can provide them with a reality check. Fraudsters exploit the privacy of romance as a smokescreen for money laundering or identity theft. They can react angrily
if their requests – or in some cases the relationship itself – are made known to others, preferring to convince victims that they are the only person that truly understands them. In this way, victims can find it difficult to identify that they are in an abusive
relationship and have less ways to find help. 


Once isolated from their support network, romance fraudsters try to make their victims emotionally dependent on them, creating a power imbalance. Often, this happens without the victim realising, leading to a sense of blame. 

Just imagine – you communicate concern about your relationship to your family and you are accused of being disloyal for doing so. You are made to apologise. Fuelled by guilt, you agree to help your partner financially, with a feeling that you are still in charge when (blinded by promises of a better future) you are anything but.


Have you ever come across something that feels too good to be true? Romance fraudsters often create a fictitious story, first by planting a seed, then referring back to that story when they need money. Imagine: your new partner’s online dating profile
mentions that it is their dream to start a business. As the relationship progresses, your partner drip-feeds information about the company they are building. 

They make you believe that they just need one more loan from you to kick-start their project – criticising you for lacking support if you waver – when in reality their company does not exist. In this way, it can be difficult for victims of romance fraud to realise that they are being exploited. They are often flattered by the advances of their abuser, and struggle to come to terms with anything that might shatter their image of romance.

What to do about it

Be extremely careful if you are encouraged to keep your relationship secret from your family and friends. Regardless of how long you have been getting to know someone online, or how much you may trust them, they might not have your best interests at heart. Take a moment to think. The Take Five campaign outlines three principles to prevent yourself from being a victim of fraud.

STOP: Taking a moment to stop and think before parting with your money or information could keep you safe.

CHALLENGE: Could it be fake? It’s ok to reject, refuse or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.

PROTECT: Contact your bank immediately if you think you’ve fallen for a scam and report it to Action Fraud.

If you have been a victim of fraud, please contact Action Fraud, Victims First or Victim Support.
If you have any information about those behind romance fraud, you can prevent further scams
by contacting Crimestoppers UK. 

This can be done anonymously at crimestoppers- forms/pre-form.