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In mid December the Department of Justice announced that seven men—six from Nigeria and one from South Africa—pled guilty to conning tens of millions of dollars from Americans via online dating sites.While the case was remarkable for its magnitude, when it comes to so-called “romance scams,” it still represents just the tip of the iceberg.Around 7.8 million UK adults used online dating sites in 2016, up from just 100,000 in 2000.But just as dating app users are at an all-time high, so is the number of people becoming victims of online dating fraud.This leaves many victims not only embarrassed, but also in financial distress.It is important for online users to be on the look-out for online dating and romance scams.
Criminals who perpetrate online dating and romance scams use emotional appeals to quickly gain their victims’ trust and then, just as quickly, exploit it.
Again, both men and women can and have fallen victim to online dating scammers, but women tend to be targeted more aggressively.
Interestingly, the AARP says that men fall victim to these scams more often, but that women are more likely to report the scam.
A recent study indicates that up to 10 percent of Americans use online dating websites or mobile applications.
As the number of people looking to meet new people online grows, so does the opportunity for fraud.“That big investment gives victims a false sense that the relationship must be real.” Eventually a pitch for money comes.