Santander partners with dating expert to warn of the ‘love language’ to look out for as romance scammers hit on a third of Brits

  • Santander UK teams up with Celebs Go Dating star and relationship expert Anna Williamson to raise awareness of romance scams
  • New data shows 83% who fall victim to romance fraud do so due to scammers’ clever choice of words
  • Brits who have fallen for romance scams say they lost £2,300 on average
  • Anna and Santander launch ‘Love Hurts’ sweets to highlight the language to look out for

Santander has teamed up with dating guru Anna Williamson to launch Love Hurts, a new romance scam awareness campaign designed to help people protect themselves from potential scams.

As part of the initiative Santander has created ‘Love Hurts’ sweets containing the key phrases used by romance scammers to reel in their victims. 

A romance scam is when victims are tricked into sending their money to a criminal who goes to great lengths to win their trust and convince them that they are in a real relationship.

New research from Santander1 shows almost a third (31%) of Brits have been targeted by a romance scammer. UK Finance data shows romance scam fraud increased last year with £31.3 million worth of romance scams reported in 2022, up from £30.9 million in 2021, and up from £17.8 million in 2020.

More than four in five Brits (83%) who fell victim to a romance scam said it was because of the clever language used by the criminals, the way they were spoken to, or the intimate conversations they had with the scammer.

Chris Ainsley, Head of Fraud Risk Management at Santander said: “Scammers can be convincing and clever with their language, which is why we want to help people be more alert to the telltale signs of a romance scam.

“No matter how sweet a situation may seem, it’s important to think twice and ask yourself whether the romance is real, particularly when the conversation veers towards finances.
“As well as being guarded against sweet-talk, never sending money to people you have only just met and checking in with a trusted friend or family before making any payments, can also help protect you from potential scams.”

Santander’s research also reveals victims lost £2,331.50 on average to scammers.  The impact of being scammed left four in five (81%) saying they had been put off dating and meeting new people, while two thirds (67%) have struggled to trust a romantic partner.

Anna Williamson, TV presenter and relationship expert adds: “Romance fraud is manipulative and cruel. Dating is a wonderful and exciting thing, but we must always protect ourselves and remain mindful of somebody’s intentions. I hope Santander’s Love Hurts campaign can help educate people about the ‘love language’ to be mindful of, and stop romance scammers from bringing misery to so many people’s lives.”

Top tips on avoiding a romance scam include:

  • Online friendships are based on profile.  It is important to check if the person you’re talking to is who they say they are. For example, you can check if profile photos are genuine by performing a reverse image search on a web search engine.  This can find photos that have been taken from someone else.
  • Be on red alert if someone you’ve only met online asks you to lend them money, no matter how plausible their reason might seem. Try to remove the emotion from your decision-making and talk it through with someone else.
  • And never lie to your bank if they ask you questions about a payment you are making. We know the signs to look out for and our questions are there to help protect you

The phrases featured on the Love Hurts sweets and to watch out for include: 

  • I’ve fallen for u
  • My £££’s frozen
  • I’ll pay u back
  • I can’t video call                
  • We’re so alike
  • Trust me
  • Only u can help
  • We’ll be married    
  • U know me
  • Soz, I’m abroad

For more information about how to detect scammers visit Santander’s website

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The information contained in our press releases is intended solely for journalists and should not be used by consumers to make financial decisions.

Notes to editors

  1. Research commissioned by Santander, conducted by 3GEM, surveying 2,000 people in the UK aged 18+ between 27th - 31st July. 

Santander UK is a financial services provider in the UK that offers a wide range of personal and commercial financial products and services. At 30 June 2023, the bank had around 19,400 employees and serves around 14 million active customers, 7 million digital customers via a nationwide 445 branch network, telephone, mobile and online banking. Santander UK is subject to the full supervision of the FCA and the PRA in the UK. Santander UK plc customers’ eligible deposits are protected by the FSCS in the UK.

Banco Santander (SAN SM, STD US, BNC LN) is a leading commercial bank, founded in 1857 and headquartered in Spain. It has a meaningful presence in 10 core markets in the Europe, North America and South America regions, and is one of the largest banks in the world by market capitalization. Santander aims to be the best open financial services platform providing services to individuals, SMEs, corporates, financial institutions and governments. The bank’s purpose is to help people and businesses prosper in a simple, personal and fair way. Santander is building a more responsible bank and has made a number of commitments to support this objective, including raising €220 billion in green financing between 2019 and 2030. In the first half of 2023, Banco Santander had €1.25 trillion in total funds, 164 million customers, 9,000 branches and 212,000 employees.