Online dating fraud statistics
A 'reprehensible' crime: Police have disclosed that 3,543 people reported they were targeted by romance scams in just 12 months, with their financial losses amounting to a staggering £33,650,491 (file picture)Cotton used the imaginary identity of Stephanie Wilson on a dating website to lure Mrs Mc Donough's son, Michael, into an online relationship and then spun a web of lies to con him out of nearly £5,000 and attempt to make his family part with a further £5,500.
It's a peak season for online dating, with the number of users usually swelling between New Year's Day and Valentine's Day.
People looking for love online should hold on to their wallets.
More than 12,500 people filed romance scam complaints with the FBI in 2015, losing more than 0 million to fraudsters. Here’s how it works: Romance scammers might persuade you to drain your bank accounts, max out your credit cards or even sell your home -- all to send them the cash. You could unwittingly become part of money laundering or drug trafficking schemes.
“That big investment gives victims a false sense that the relationship must be real.” Eventually a pitch for money comes.
Often the scammer will say an emergency situation has arisen and money is needed fast to avoid dire consequences.
(It is estimated that only 15 percent of fraud victims report their losses to law enforcement, so the real numbers are probably higher.) As one result, fear of a horrible first date is just one of the things a would-be online dater has to worry about. “Most people think the victims are middle-aged women who can't get a date, but I have worked with men and women of all ages—doctors and lawyers, CEOs of companies, people from the entertainment industry—who you’d never think in a million years would fall for these scams but do,” says Barb Sluppick, who runs romancescams.org, a watchdog site and online support group.
However, while fraud rates are relatively flat, it's becoming more sophisticated, said Molly O'Hearn, Iovations' vice president of operations and co-founder.
Western Union received at least 44,500 complaints about online dating and romance scams, with losses totaling at least million, between 20, the FTC’s Todd Kossow says.
Amy Nofziger, regional director of the AARP Foundation, explained how a romance scam works: The scammer will often say he or she is from the United States, but is traveling or working overseas, and will quickly profess his or her love for you.
According to the FBI, romance scams and similar confidence scams cost consumers more money than any other kind of Internet fraud.
In 2015, the last year for which data is available, consumers lost more than 0 million this way.Yet in the quest for love, online daters may find fraud instead.