What does it look like?

We've written this story to show you how scammers trick people. It describes common tactics we know scammers use, based on insights from our fraud and scams team.

The business emergency scam

Fatima met Jack on a dating website and they'd been getting along well. She was excited when he asked her if they could use a messaging app to chat, instead of the dating app. They messaged for a couple of months, and she liked him a lot.

Fatima asked a few times to meet Jack in person but he said he couldn't see her, because he worked in business and was always travelling for work.

One day Jack messaged Fatima in a panic – he was in the middle of an important business deal but his account had been blocked and the deal was about to fall through and he needed her help. He asked her to transfer some money to his business partner, and promised to pay her back as soon as he could. He told her to tell the bank it was going to a friend, to make sure it would arrive quickly. She transferred some money from her savings.

Over the next couple of weeks, Jack asked Fatima to send more money to help with the business – always to a new business partner.

Fatima ended up with no money left in her savings account, and told Jack she couldn't afford to send him any more money. He stopped replying to her messages and she never heard from him again.

What's the scam?

Jack didn't exist. A scammer pretended to be a businessman, and started an online relationship with Fatima to gain her trust. The money she sent wasn't really for a business deal – the scammer had stolen her savings.