Nationwide issues fraud warning after customers lose £11,796

While the number of romance scams reported in 2022 was down 17 percent compared to 2021, the amount which victims are being duped out of has soared. According to Nationwide’s data, the average loss per case has more than doubled, growing from £4,720 in 2021 to £11,796 in 2022 – a staggering increase of 150 percent.

It’s not just older people who are at risk of falling victim to scammers, data from the last two years shows victims were aged between 14 and 94.

Last year, the percentage of people aged under 34 years old reporting a romance scam almost doubled – from 15 percent to 28 percent.

At the same time, the rate of incidents against those aged 45 and over dropped from 74 percent to 63 percent.

One Nationwide customer recently visited a branch requesting to send £1,250 to a travel company to pay for a flight from Russia for their partner.

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A Natiowide spokeperson said: “A Nationwide branch colleagues discussed the situation with the member at which point they accepted they had become a victim of a romance scam.

“As a result the payment wasn’t made although Nationwide educated them about the consequences of romance scams and the red flags to look out for.

“Another Nationwide member visited their local branch asking to send £2,000 to their partner. During the conversation with the branch employees, the member divulged that their partner was in France and that they had only met four months ago. They had only had online communication and the money was for hospital treatment.

“The colleagues in the branch contacted the police to ask them to speak to the member. This is because they initially wouldn’t believe it was a scam and were adamant they needed to send the money to their partner, so that person could get the treatment they said they needed to be able to travel to see them.”

Nationwide has launched a Scam Checker Service to help its customers check an electronic payment they are worried about, either in branch or by calling freephone number 0800 030 4057.

If the payment goes ahead and the member is subsequently scammed they will be fully reimbursed, unless Nationwide told the member not to proceed.

Jim Winters, Director of Economic Crime at Nationwide Building Society, said: “While it’s good to see incidents declining, it’s worrying to see average amounts on the rise as criminals double down on their victims.

“They can be very convincing in getting someone looking for love or feeling lonely to give them their trust, personal details and ultimately their money, even when they haven’t physically met each other.”

Meanwhile, Britons were warned about a new HMRC scam circulating to “scare” people into making payments on this morning’s ITV Lorraine show.

Financial Times journalist and host of the Money Clinic podcast, Claer Barrett warned viewers of ITV’s Lorraine show what to watch out for.

She said: “The key to avoiding these is HMRC never phone anyone – they like to send letters.

“They will never ask you to pay, put you under pressure, or threaten you with arrest – which is happening on some of these calls.”

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