According to the Consumer Reports 2016 Online Dating Survey of more than 114,000 subscribers, among the respondents who were considering online dating but were hesitant, 46 percent said they were concerned about being scammed. “Typically the scammer builds trust by writing long letters over weeks or months and crafting a whole persona for their victims,” says Unit Chief David Farquhar from the Financial Crimes Section of the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) who specializes in cyber-related crimes.“That big investment gives victims a false sense that the relationship must be real.” Eventually a pitch for money comes.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.According to the FBI, romance scams and similar confidence scams cost consumers more money than any other kind of Internet fraud.The majority of online daters (51 percent) lie by exaggerating or misrepresenting their online dating profiles – usually the touch up of a photo or some dramatic change in their profile information, to make them appear more appealing.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.Interestingly, the majority of Australians find it hard to identify scammers (56 percent) and nearly 60 percent of Australians would like website/app owners to take more ownership for protecting them from the dangers of online dating.Reassuringly, catfishing – being tricked into a romantic online relationship with someone who has a fake online identity – was rarely encountered in Australia (12 percent) and almost half (48 percent) realised they were a victim at the point when the other person refused to meet them in person.
(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.The Norton Online Dating Survey reveals that while more than one in four people who try online dating successfully meet someone as a result, many online daters had been the targets of scams and fake identities with scammers using online dating as a way to trick people into handing over money or entering a false relationship.Despite these risks, online daters are taking their chances at finding Mr. Right with almost half (45 percent) spending two or more hours on online dating sites every day.This shift in opinion has been driven both by attitude change among individuals generally and by the fact that over the period, successive generations have reached adulthood with more racially liberal views than earlier generations.Millennials are no exception to this trend: Large majorities of 18-to-29 year olds express support for interracial marriage within their families, and the level of acceptance in this generation is greater than in other generations.