Love is in the air, and cybercriminals are catching the wave, eager to defraud hopeless romantics. In 2022, dating scams cost Brits £88 million ($106.4 million), according to Hicomply, which offers information security management solutions.
Despite the scary figure, the number of UK romance scams and subsequent losses actually decreased in 2022 – in comparison to £97.2 million (around $117.4 million) lost in 2021. In total, 7,938 cases were reported to Action Fraud, down from 8,700 reports a year before.
Crooks profited the most from the Greater London area, followed by Avon and Somerset and West Yorkshire. The gained profits did not always correspond with the intensity of criminal activity: as such, 318 scams in Thames Valley netted cybercriminals over £2 million ($2,4 million) less than 227 scams carried out in Avon and Somerset.
When it comes to victims, the 20-29 age group reported the most dating fraud scams, followed by 50-59-year-olds and 30-39-year-olds. Hicomply yet shows that no age group is immune, as 15 fraud scams were reported by 90-99-year-olds.
This amounted to approximately 662 scams reported to Action Fraud per month, with the most money lost in June.
Although dating apps appeared in reports in 16% fewer cases than in 2021, they were still mentioned in 889 cases. Tinder and Plenty of Fish led the pack, followed by Hinge and Grindr. Overall, they accounted for 11% of all romance scams in 2022, which Hicomply attributed to stricter identity verification policies.
“While on the surface the overall percentage of dating scams appear to be on a downward trend, the depth of crimes – use of dating platforms to spread disinformation, use of AI to create deepfakes and a trail of deep webs on social media to create a false sense of trust – is on the rise,” Dr. Meera Sarma, CEO at cybersecurity solutions provider Cystel, warned.
More from Cybernews:
Subscribe to our newsletter