PROSPECTIVE daters in north Shropshire are being warned that 'romance fraud' is on the rise in the UK.

New data from UK Finance has revealed a 20 per cent increase in bank transfer romance fraud between January-November 2020 compared to the previous year, with the total value of these scams rising by 12 per cent to £18.5 million.

West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner John Campion said he believes that this type of fraud is just another way to exploit vulnerable people.

“I am committed to protecting vulnerable people and supporting victims of crime," he said.

"Romance fraud is a horrible crime that can leave victims devastated, both financially and emotionally.

“Providing the right support for victims is central to my role as commissioner, and I would urge anyone that has been a victim of this very personal crime to reach out to the support that is available.”

The average loss per victim reported to UK Finance members was £7,850, highlighting the significant impact this type of fraud can have on victims’ finances.

But criminals can trick victims into sending them money in many ways, not just via a bank transfer.

Action Fraud has also seen a rise in reports made by members of the public who have fallen victim to romance fraud in 2020, with total reported losses equating to over £68 million.

In these reports, victims have lost money via bank transfer, money transfer, sending fraudsters gift cards and vouchers or presents such as phones and laptops, and providing them with access to their bank account or card.

Romance scams involve people being duped into sending money to criminals who go to great lengths to gain their trust and convince them that they are in a genuine relationship.

They use language to manipulate, persuade and exploit so that requests for money do not raise alarm bells.

The rise in romance scams comes as more people have turned to online dating during 2020 because of social distancing restrictions.

Detective Inspector Emma Wright, from West Mercia Police's Economic Crime Unit, said: “We are committed to safeguarding vulnerable people and disrupting criminality that preys on victims and causing them significant financial losses.

"We work in collaboration with the City of London Police to investigate reports and develop intelligence leads to disrupt romance fraudsters, whilst also safeguarding, supporting and offering protection advice to the victims.

“Romance scams are both emotionally and financially damaging for victims.

"The increasing popularity of online dating services has made it easier for criminals to target victims, so we urge everyone to be cautious and follow the advice of the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign, which offers straight-forward and impartial advice to help people spot scams and protect themselves against fraud.

“Although banks are always looking out for suspicious activity, customers must be on their guard and protect themselves too. Always be wary of requests for money from someone you’ve never met in person."

If you think you’ve been the victim of a romance scam, contact your bank immediately, report it to Action Fraud at or call 101.