Looking for love online should be fun; many people have indeed found their happy ever after through internet dating sites. But, unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Online dating scams robbed singles of nearly £40m in 2016, with unwitting victims tricked into handing over, on average, £10,000 of their own money.
Those affected are still in the minority, but we don’t want any of the FreeAndSingle clan to fall foul of these fraudsters. You should always exercise caution when meeting people online – we’re here to tell you how:
A surge in online dating scams
The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau reported that there were nearly 4,000 online dating scams in Britain alone last year – a record number. According to Action Fraud, over 39% of those were male. Most scammers themselves are thought to be male but there are numerous women who commit online dating scams too, particularly against men over 50.
Victims are most commonly told of emergencies that entail an urgent need for financial help. This requires a relationship of trust to be established first, with scammers cruelly feigning a genuine romantic interest in their targets. The problem is that while investigators have tracked many of these criminals’ whereabouts to West Africa and Eastern Europe, identifying and charging individuals has often proven difficult.
How to stay safe
Despite online dating scams often being publicised in the news, individual cases are on the rise as people increasingly turn to the internet for love. So how can you ensure that singles you are speaking to have genuine intentions?
Signing up to only reputable sites, like ours, is very important. They should have the proper measures in place to ensure that nobody suspicious slips through the net, and if anyone does misuse the service in any way, then the appropriate action will be taken.
Secondly, be shrewd in establishing whether people you talk to are who they say they are; does their photo look realistic? Are they communicating with you in a way that’s consistent with the style of their profile? And does what they tell you match with the information on there? Crucially, never give out your personal details, such as your address, where you work, or how much you earn.
Protecting our users
At FreeAndSingle, we have a specially-trained customer service team who thoroughly check every profile, as well as using the industry-leading anti-scammer software Scamalytics to monitor all member behaviour and put a stop to online dating scams.
There is also a Report Profile button on each member profile, so you can easily and quickly contact FreeAndSingle if you feel unsafe or notice any suspicious behaviour.
Don’t let the threat of online dating scams put you off joining dating sites; they are still a great way of finding love, as proven by millions. Just be savvy in how you approach the whole process; protect yourself as you would if you met someone in person. Our help pages provide all of the information you need to enjoy online dating with confidence.