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Love scams

Learn how fraudsters take advantage of online dating hopefuls


Love scammers look to befriend individuals who are seeking genuine relationships via dating websites or social media. They will pretend to be prospective partners when their real intent is to steal their victim’s personal details, trick him/her into sending them large sums of money or make him/her an unwitting money mule.


The approach:

The fraud:

  • Use fake stories of misfortune to gain sympathy

    After gaining their victim’s trust – often waiting weeks, months, or years – and when their victim’s defences are down, love scammers may share an elaborate tale of misfortune (either subtly or directly) to gain sympathy. They will request for the victim’s help in the form of money, gifts or personal details.

  • Pretend there is an emergency

    These requests may be hard to reject. They may ask for a loan to help them get through supposed hard times or a personal emergency (e.g. to pay for hospital bills following an invented accident or illness). They may pretend to want to visit the victim and ask for money to cover flight and other travel expenses.

  • Claim to have developed feelings in a short period of time

    Another common tactic they adopt is to profess strong feelings for their victim in a relatively short period of time. To gain their victims’ interest and trust quickly, scammers may shower them with loving words, share what appear to be deeply personal stories and send them small gifts.

  • Pretend to live overseas or travel often

    Often, they will claim to live overseas or be constantly travelling. To keep up this guise, they may even pretend to book flights to visit their victim – although these visits never take place.

  • Constantly ask for money

    They may request a large sum at once or several payments over longer periods of time. Naturally, they will promise to pay it all back. If the victim does not send the money to them straight away, they become more desperate, persistent and direct in their messages.

    They will not keep their promises and will always make excuses for not returning the money or meeting their victim, all while constantly requesting more money. They will disappear once their victim runs out of money.

  • Operate as part of larger criminal networks

    Some love scammers are part of international criminal networks and may get their victims’ unknowing help to facilitate criminal activity. For example, they may get the victims to send valuable items (e.g. laptops or mobile phones) to different addresses (the scammers may have sent the valuable items to the victims or gotten the victims to personally buy the items). Scammers may also ask victims to accept money into their bank account and then transfer it to someone else – this is a form of money laundering.

    They will make up a range of reasons for needing to send the items or money.

    In extreme cases, love scammers also pose a risk to their victim’s physical safety. Some scammers have lured victims overseas and put them dangerous situations that often have tragic consequences (e.g. kidnapping in exchange for ransom; human trafficking; or blackmailing them into carrying out criminal offences).

  • Protect your money

    Do not send money to anyone you have not met.

  • Protect your details

    Be wary when sharing personal images, videos or information with anyone you have not met. They may eventually be used to blackmail you.

  • Be objective

    Try to set emotion aside when making decisions regarding online relationships, no matter how nice and invested the person who approached you may seem to be. Consider the fact that he/she may be a scammer.

  • Challenge them

    If you intend to meet or pursue a relationship with someone you met online, always insist on a live video call with him/her first.

  • Do your research

    Perform a reverse image search via Google Images to verify the identity of your prospective partner. Oftentimes, scammers will use photos of real people to create fake profiles. By uploading these photos to Google Images, you may discover that the person behind the social media profile has been catfishing you.

  • Spot inconsistencies

    Look out for unusually poor spelling or grammar in the messages your prospective partner sends and any inconsistencies that may appear in their stories over time.

  • Do not give in to pressure

    Never send any money, give away sensitive details about yourself or anyone you know or sign any documents under pressure.

  • Protect your account(s)

    Be responsible for all transactions carried out under your account(s); do not share your banking details or allow anyone to use your account(s) to make transactions on your behalf. You could be laundering money for criminals – a criminal offense that carries a hefty fine of up to S$500,000 and prison time of up to 10 years.

  • Take precautions

    If you ever agree to meet with a prospective partner you met online in person, let your family and friends know and meet them in a public place with many people. Avoid travelling overseas to visit someone you have never met in person before.


Call us

If you believe you have fallen prey to such scams and/or your OCBC account details/funds may be or may have been compromised, please call our Personal Banking hotline at 6363 3333 (or +65 6363 3333 if you are overseas) and press 8 to report fraud or temporarily freeze all your accounts and cards.

Contact the Police and file a report

You can file a police report online or in person at a police station

Find out what information you will need to share if you have fallen prey to a scam.

Contact the platforms involved

Report the scammer to the e-commerce platform, social media website or classified ads website that you purchased the product from and/or where the scammer approached you.

Spread the word

Tell others you know of your experience to help educate and protect them. You can also share your stories on social media or anonymously at www.scamalert.sg.

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