Love Bugs: Scammers Taking Advantage of Online Daters

Media Division | January 25, 2017

Different parts of the internet can hide all sorts of cyber threats.  With online dating becoming increasingly popular in the modern age, it has become a lucrative source of victims for cyber criminals.  According to statistics from the ActionFraud crime reporting service, there were 3,594 cases of online dating fraud reported in the UK last year through the time period of January – November.

The total amount scammed through online dating fraud last year sits at a staggering £36.6m. This breaks down into an average of about £10,000 lost per person.  The total for the year rises up to about £39m when the projected numbers for December (£3.5m) are added in.  These statistics set 2016 as the record high for online dating fraud, with 2014 at £32m, and 2015 at £26m.  While ActionFraud has not released an analysis of the underlying trends, it is apparent that after a dip in 2015, the numbers of online dating fraud cases have skyrocketed once again.

There is also the factor that many do not report (or under report) cyber fraud, so the scope of these statistics may actually be much larger.  Regardless of that, it is plainly clear that online dating fraud has some of the highest potential losses

How Online Dating Fraud is Achieved

Online dating fraud generally begins with the scammer making contact, and then building a rapport with the victim.  Afterwards, they begin to ask the victim for money for various fabricated reasons and imaginary difficulties.  This could include situations such as health issues, travel funds, or misfortunes in life.  The amount realistically scammed from each individual can vary greatly, depending on how long the scam is allowed to continue.  In one case, a woman lost a reported £300,000 during the course of online dating activities with a fabricated Italian man.  In this scenario, the scammer employed stories of being mugged, and his son being in the hospital and needing surgery.  In another case, a woman lost £140,000 in similar circumstances.  As unfortunate as it is, the scams are generally employed within legitimate dating sites, which seem to be quite disinterested in the issue, as nothing is being done by them to resolve it.

There are a multitude of different types of cyber crimes, scams, and fraud.  Whether a person or organization is falling victim to online dating fraud, or some other form of cybercrime, Massive Alliance offers cyber investigative services that can root out and stop the problem.

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