A study in the UK by the University of Leicaster has concluded that around 200,000 Brits have been scammed by online dating frauds in the past year. The study, which asked 2000 people if they had been (or if they knew anyone that had been) scammed by someone on an online dating site. From their results, they extrapolated that about 200,000 people had probably been affected by some sort of scam via a dating site, with about $369,000 willingly handed over to the scammers.
We all know how the scammers work, but to refresh your memory:
1. The scammer creates a fake identity on a dating or social networking site. Photographs of attractive people, often female models and male army officers, are copied from elsewhere online and one will be attached to the fake profiles.
2. An online conversation will be initiated, and at some point further photographs from the ‘stolen’ portfolio of images are exchanged with the potential victim in order to further entice them into believing that the person they are communicating with is genuine.
3. Once an online relationship has been established, and moved away from the originating site to email, often within a week or so of the initial contact, the scammer will pretend to be in urgent need of financial help and a carefully prepared backstory will be employed to add credibility to the plea for help.
4. If a victim has been persuaded to part with cash once, then the scammer will return to feed upon the prey time and time again until suspicions are aroused and then vanish into the ether never to be heard of again, at least not with that identity.
Of course, once you’ve become a seasoned online dater, you know the signs to look for (and if you don’t check the links here on how to avoid being scammed). However, it’s important that companies be diligent in recognizing and deleting potential scammers from their sites, lest they garner a bad reputation for allowing fraudulent profiles to stick around.
We hope that this year, single Brits will be a bit more cautious about who they toss their money at. The criminal will always be the scammer, but you shouldn’t willingly allow yourself to be a victim, either!
What about you? Have you ever been scammed on a dating site? Do you think people should be responsible for their own actions online, or should the dating sites themselves held accountable?