Love may be in the air, but while you’re doe-eyed over a new Valentine, something more sinister may be at work here.

Around 200,000 people reportedly fell victim to a romance scam in the UK last year, according to figures from Norfolk Trading Standards. Valentine’s Day presents a perfect opportunity for criminals to make easy money, as they target lonely and vulnerable individuals with ever-inventive scamming techniques.

Make sure you’re aware of the risks this Valentine’s day, and prepare for any scams that may come your way with Chartered Trading Standards Institutes (CTSI) quick guide.

  • The Romance Scam: Con artists actively use dating websites to find their victims – stalking online singles hangouts for a lonely person that they can manipulate into sending cash or romantic gifts, often until the victim is broke.
  • The Secret Admirer: A parcel arrives from a secret admirer, but the delivery driver needs to scan your credit card to prove your identity. Always be wary when someone asks for personal details at the door, and never give over your card details.
  • Ransomware e-Cards: Victims receive a Valentine’s e-Card or a link from a flirty messenger bot. When the link is opened, your computer is flooded with viruses and dangerous software, designed to steal your identity and personal information. Always be wary when clicking links in unknown emails.

Emotions run high this time of year, but you shouldn’t let them cloud your judgement. Be rational and have your wits about you. Stop and think; exercising a little caution can save you months of heartache down the line. If you think you’ve fallen victim to a scam, please call the Consumer Helpline on 03454 040506.

Stay safe this Valentine’s Day.