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Data released on rise in romance scams as Valentine’s Day looms

Data released on rise in romance scams as Valentine’s Day looms

Romance scams rose by 19 percent globally last year, according to data from behavioral biometrics cybersecurity company BioCatch. These scams target those looking for relationships by using fake photos to build a trusting relationship with a victim before asking for money to pay bills or travel to meet with the victim.

Some regions saw a particularly sharp rise in cases. North America saw a 183 percent rise in romance scams, while the Asia Pacific region saw an increase of 104 percent.

Phone calls and texts were the top communication channels for scams, while Facebook and WhatsApp were top platforms for scammers, according to a report from the Global Anti-Scam Alliance. Only 59 percent of victims reported romance scams to law enforcement.

Those between the ages of 55 to 64 were most likely to be defrauded, with this type of scam rising by almost 49 percent in 2023 compared to the year prior for this age bracket. Those between 65 and 74 saw the largest losses.

“When it comes to romance scams, or any scam for that matter, banks need to play a critical role in consumer education and protection,” said Tracy Kitten, director of fraud and security for insights provider Javelin. “This starts with banks understanding the habits of different demographics, how criminals target them, and then helping their customers recognize the risky activities that make them vulnerable.”

Javelin‘s research shows that men are more likely to fall victim to a romance scam than women. Research from Lloyds Bank found the same, though it also found that women who are victims of romance scams report higher losses than men, reporting an average of £9,083 (~US$11,443) compared to an average £5,145 (~US$6482) lost by men.

BioCatch uses behavioral biometrics to identify those who demonstrate suspicious behavior associated with committing romance scams. Some signs include that an account is newly created, inconsistencies between SIM cards and IP location, and the use of foreign SIM cards as well as the use of dating apps.

“We believe that by using our knowledge of how fraudsters behave, we can identify the bad guys much easier than identifying potential victims, and by providing this information to banks, they can be empowered to take action to prevent victims from losing their hard-earned money,” said Thomas Peacock, director of global fraud intelligence at BioCatch.

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