Reports of romance scams involving male victims jumped by 40% between 2022 and 2023, according to Britain’s biggest building society.
Nationwide, which analysed its own data, said there was a small 2% drop in scams involving female victims.
One in five (20%) romance fraud cases reported to Nationwide Building Society by men in 2023 involved victims aged 20 to 30.
According to Nationwide’s data, women are more likely to lose more than men, with the average 2023 claim for women standing at £10,610, compared with an average of £8,181 for men.
Nationwide released the figures ahead of Valentine’s Day on February 14.
The society is encouraging customers concerned about a payment to use its scam checker service before parting with any money.
If the payment goes ahead and the customer is subsequently scammed, unless Nationwide told the customer not to proceed, they will be fully reimbursed.
Jim Winters, Nationwide’s director of economic crime, said: “Criminals can be very convincing and persuasive enough to get someone looking for love or feeling lonely to give them their trust, personal details and ultimately their money, even when they haven’t actually met each other in person.
“Our data shows all ages can be a target of romance scams as criminals will cast their net far and wide to stand the best chance of snaring a victim.”
In one case seen by Nationwide, a customer met someone via social media who claimed to be serving in the United States military and also to have sent expensive gifts to Nationwide’s customer.
The customer was told that these would be held until taxes and customs fees were paid.
The customer sent a payment of £7,000 but the “courier” delivering the packages contacted them and said police had seized the gifts and further payments were required.
The scam was reported by a family member.
Following a visit to a Nationwide branch, the customer realised it was a scam and no further payments were made, while the initial payment was refunded.
Nationwide warned that fraudsters will try to move interactions away from dating apps and websites. They may encourage people to use private emails, phone calls and instant messaging, that cannot be easily tracked.