Romance fraud, a method of financial fraud, has been starkly highlighted by the documentary "Tinder Swindler" which documents how Simon Leviev, a convicted fraudster, has left a trail of victims of romance fraud behind him.  He is far from the only person perpetrating such a fraud.

Romance fraud has risen noticeably during the course of lockdown and is usually conducted online through various dating apps such as Tinder, E-harmony and, such frauds generally become more prevalent between the New Year and Valentine's day.  It is a particularly insensitive fraud carried out by both men and women whereby they target wealthy individuals and establish a romantic involvement whilst purporting to be as equally wealthy as their victims, using images of attractive sophisticated people and not their own image.  In some instances, they pretend to be actors or other well-known individuals.  Once the victim is drawn in the fraudster begins to ask the victim for substantial sums of money using various spurious excuses to extract funds from them. 

Romance fraud is also used in commonplace conventional financial fraud involving Foreign Exchange (Forex) investment fraud.  The fraudster targets their victim through a dating app and once their victim trusts them they provide "investment" advice, acting as "introducers" to unregulated brokers who then encourage the victims to make trades or they act as account managers making the trades on behalf of the victim supposedly on Forex, Contracts for Difference and Crypto platforms with the same consequences of loss of funds.  The impact of this callous type of fraud can be significant and not limited to the financial loss as many victims are distressed by the way they were targeted and feel reluctant to reveal that they were deluded in such a way.

Demetri Bezaintes, a lawyer within Giambrone & Partners' banking and financial fraud litigation team, commented "it is quite understandable that victims of romance fraud feel devastated and are reluctant to reveal that they were duped in such a way. They are far from alone, the latest report from UK Finance estimates that £18 million has been scammed from victims in the UK." Demetri points out "the romance fraudsters, who generally act alone, may be easier to track down than fraudsters involved in more elaborate frauds.

Giambrone & Partners' banking and financial litigation team have an excellent track record in recovering funds lost to financial fraudsters and believe that swift action against the rising romance fraudsters may provide the victims with the best opportunity to recover their money before it is hidden or spent.  Our dedicated lawyers know the distress that romance fraud creates and have various tactics which have been developed to retrieve our clients' funds.

Joanna Bailey, who heads Giambrone & Partners' banking and financial fraud team, says "if you have been approached by a person on a dating app who asks about your financial position having indicated that they are extremely wealthy, who subsequently shows considerable romantic interest in you, this may be a warning sign." Joanna further commented "if contact is maintained only online it would be wise to practice caution and avoid sending money or providing details of your bank or credit card."

Giambrone & Partners banking and financial fraud lawyers understand how romance fraud conducted through apps such as Tinder causes distress and upset to the victims and make every effort to assist the victims to recover their money.

Joanna Bailey heads the banking and financial fraud team she advises international and UK-based clients in a range of financial services disputes. Joanna is highly regarded for her meticulous approach and her persistence when investigating international fraud. Her considerable experience and dogged pursuit frequently leads to the successful recovery of funds for clients.  Joanna has enjoyed a substantial level of recovery for our clients, often in cases that did not predict success.

Demetri Bezaintes works with Joanna and has a thorough knowledge of all types of investment fraud and fund tracing. He works tenaciously for our clients, advising on forex and cryptocurrency trading disputes and regulatory investigations.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.