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Scammers use language designed to manipulate, persuade and exploit victims, so when they start to make financial demands alarm bells are not raised. Demands are usually highly emotive, such as criminals claiming they need money to cover medical bills or to pay for transport so they can come and see the victim. It is important to remember that these demands and justifications are not true and you should never send money to someone you do not know personally.

How to Spot a Romance Scam

  • The scammer wants to move the conversation elsewhere: Criminals will try to move the conversation to a different place, such as by asking you to chat by text or on social media platforms such as WhatsApp. There is no good reason for this and you should only consider doing this when you are sure that the person you are talking to really is who they say they are.
  • The person you are talking to has started making demands: Legitimate contacts will never ask you to send them money or gift cards for any reason. If you have started talking to someone and they begin to ask for money, cease communication immediately as it is likely they are lying to you to try and extort you.
  • Profile pictures look familiar or too perfect: Criminals will create fake accounts to target their victims, specifically designed to appeal to certain people. It is a good idea to perform a reverse image search on profile pictures from people who have sent you a connection request to check if the image belongs to someone else or has been used on multiple accounts with different names.

Check in on those you Care About

  • Are they being secretive? Many scammers will convince their victim to withhold information about their “relationship” from friends and family. If someone you know is keeping details about their “partner” quiet, or provide excuses as to why they haven’t met in person or video called them, they may be involved in a romance scam.
  • Do they get angry or agitated when asked about their partner? Victims who have been asked to keep the relationship a secret may become angry when people ask about their relationship and how it is going. This could be a sign that they are being controlled through this type of scam.
  • They are planning to send money to someone online. If someone you know has already, or is planning to send money to someone they have not met in person they could be involved in a romance scam. Victims may be instructed to send money under false pretences and have to take out loans or a portion of their pension to cover the cost the criminal demands.

What to do if you think you are a Victim

Unfortunately, these sorts of scams occur more often than people think. If you believe you, or someone close to you, has become a victim, report it to us using our Cyber Concern Reporting Form and to your bank if you have lost money. It is important that you stop talking to the scammer as soon as possible if you have become a victim.


This page was last reviewed on 29/04/2024.