Security experts have warned ahead of Valentine’s Day that users of online dating sites have a higher chance of being hit by fraud than virtually any other sector.
Fraud prevention firm iovation claimed that 1.39% of all transactions – things like account profile creation, logins and exchanging information between daters – were fraudulent in 2015.
To put that in comparison, the average across all industries was 1.06%.
However, iovation noted that the rate of fraud in the dating sector has fallen from 1.58% in 2014. What’s more, the sector was behind gaming (3%) and retail (2.6%) in the fraud stakes.
Despite this, with more professionals increasingly turning to online channels to find love, scammers are primed to take advantage.
Spam – that is, users sending out unsolicited messages promoting products or companies via email, IM or postings – is the most common type of fraud.
Identity mining including phishing is the next most popular type of fraud on online dating platforms, followed by scams, posting of inaccurate profile information, and credit card fraud, the firm explained.
Identity mining in particular can be incredibly damaging for the victim as it often represents the first step in a broader identity fraud campaign, with those credentials used down the line to open bogus credit card accounts and the like.
“Scammers are clearly leveraging online dating sites as a new targeted marketing channel to serve up unsolicited offers,” said iovation co-founder, Molly O’Hearn. “At the same time, there are still plenty of ‘catfish’ – people who pretend to be someone they're not to pursue deceptive online romances.”
Most fraud attempts tracked by iovation last year originated in the US (18%), with the African nations of Ghana (11%) and Nigeria (10%) next. France (8%) and Vietnam (7%) rounded out the top five.
News of major online dating scams seem to break every few months. Back in December it was revealed by the Met that a woman in her 40s was tricked into handing over a staggering £1.6 million to scammers she met online.
Last month news emerged that “plug and play” online dating scam packages are being traded on the darknet.