Online dating is surely a faster, cheaper, and much more convenient way of meeting a potential partner than regular dating, but can also be much more dangerous. In fact, there’s a bigger chance of someone lying about their intentions in the world of online dating than in cases of face-to-face dates.
That being said, we could easily say that online dating frauds have become something of an industry, where a great number of people register on dating websites just so that they can dupe you out of your hard-earned money. This time, we’ll focus on how serious this phenomenon is in the UK.
Financial Help vs. Stealing
Believe it or not, but the online dating fraud thing is a very, very real problem not just in the United Kingdom, but all over the world. According to Norton, a virus software firm, there were 3,363 reported cases of online dating fraud last year, which sums up to about £24 million!
This means that about one in three people who practice online dating have been approached for financial help, with half of them ending up scammed out of their money.
It’s a little hard spotting a fraudster beforehand, since they’re really good at creating convincing and realistic profiles, complete with stolen photos and fake details about themselves. One thing’s for sure, though – these villains are relentless. They would speak to their target for as long as few weeks in order to gain their trust, rarely backing down or giving up.
But that’s not all. Once they’ve successfully established a connection, their next move is to ask for money for any number of emotive reasons, such as illness, rehab, or even investments.
The Truth Is In The Numbers
In 2015, a 66-year-old teacher from Cornwall got scammed into transferring tens of thousands of pounds to a man claiming that investing in oil was such a good idea, for which he needed her help, of course.
Matthew Samuels from Worcester is an example of what an online dating scammer can really do. This 51-year-old managed to con five women, including one elderly widow, out of a grand total of £185,000. Luckily, he was caught, jailed, and ordered to pay £100,000 to his victims by the court.
Still, we can only imagine the kind of emotional and psychological trauma these women went through when they found out they threw their savings into the wind.
On another occasion, Robinson Agbonifoayetan, a 32-year-old man from Welling in south-east London, got sentenced to serve 3 years in prison for an elaborate online dating scam. This guy successfully conned two women after convincing them that he was an US marines general who has fell in love with them, only to steal nearly £300,000 by the end of it.
We know all of the examples above have men in the main role, but women are equally prone to online dating scams as men are. Either way, these criminals are still out there, preying on the gullible and the selfless, waiting for the time to strike. The only way to avoid being duped out of your money is to be cautious and aware.