Romance scams

The world of online dating can be difficult to navigate, which is why it’s a great place for scammers to attract new victims.

Romance scams happen when a scammer creates a fake profile — either on a dating app or social media — and uses it to befriend you and pretend to build a romantic relationship. Over the weeks, months or even years of building this relationship, they’ll extract personal information from you, and will usually end up asking you for money or using your details to take out loans and credit cards in your name before disappearing.

Romance scams are becoming increasingly common. So, it’s important to be aware of the tactics scammers use and how to avoid falling for their tricks.

How romance scams usually work

Scammers use a range of tactics to gain your trust and affection, such as sending gifts, offering compliments and sharing personal stories. Once they’ve gained your trust, they’ll usually trick you into sharing your personal details or sending them money.

Here are some of the common excuses that scammers may use to encourage you to give them your details or money:


The scammer will claim to be an expert in cryptocurrency investing and offer to help you invest.

Business investment opportunity

The scammer will tell you that a once in a lifetime opportunity has come up for their business and encourage you to invest in them.  

Business equipment

The scammer will claim to own a business and tell you they need money for equipment, taxes or repairs.

Money for travel

The scammer will tell you they want to meet in person but that they can’t afford to get to you. They’ll ask you to pay for their travel. 

Inheritance tax

The scammer will claim to have inherited a large amount of money and ask you to pay the legal fees. Or, they might say they need you to hold onto some of the inheritance for tax purposes and ask you to share personal information to give to their solicitor.

Gift cards

The scammer will ask you to buy gift cards and send them the code or pictures of the cards as a proof of love or trust. They’ll then spend whatever’s on them.  

How to protect yourself from romance scams

It’s always important to be vigilant when speaking to potential romantic interests. Here are some tips to keep you safe from romance scammers:

Do your research

If you have suspicions about someone you’ve met on a dating app or social media, look at their profile, name, location and story for any inconsistencies or red flags. If they’ve told you they own a company, look it up online to see if there’s any evidence of this.

Be wary of elaborate stories

A scammer will ask a lot of personal questions about you but will usually avoid answering personal questions about themselves. If they do provide any personal stories, they often sound made up or too elaborate. For example, they may say they’re a wealthy doctor or business owner but ask you to cover their travel expenses.

Try to verify their identity

A lot of the time, scammers use fake pictures on their profile. Suggest having a video call to check they are who they say they are.

Be vigilant

Never send money of gifts to someone you’ve not met in person. And try not to give away personal information like your bank details, passwords, PINs or ID. If the person you’re talking to becomes impatient or threatening, it’s likely a scam. 

If you think you’ve been a victim of a romance scam, stop all contact with them and block their account or number. You should report your concerns to the police and the dating or social media app where you met them.

If you think the scammer might have taken a loan or credit card out in your name, contact your bank immediately to let them know what’s happened. They’ll take extra precaution to protect your account and look out for suspicious activity.  

For more information on romance scams, visit the Take Five website.  

How to report a scam

If you think you might have been a victim of a scam or notice a suspicious transaction on your Zopa account, please get in touch. 


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Other scams to be aware of

Investment and crypto scams

Investment and crypto scams are when a scammer encourages you to give them money to invest on your behalf.

The investment opportunity turns out to be fake and the scammer disappears with your money.

Scammers may also persuade you to take out a loan to fund this so-called investment.

Learn more

Social media scams

There a few different types of social media scams, including phishing, which is when a scammer messages you pretending to be someone you know or a company you trust to get personal information or money from you.

Other types of social media scams include fake advertisements and romance scams.

Learn more

Suspicious emails, texts and calls

Scammers may use emails (phishing), texts (smishing) and calls (vishing) to trick you into handing over your personal information or clicking a dodgy link.

They usually do this by pretending to be from a company you know or trust, like your bank, HMRC or Royal Mail.

Learn more

How Zopa protects you and your money from fraudsters

Read about the latest scams, how to protect yourself and what to do if you think you've been a victim of fraud.

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