Online dating scams on the rise. Image: Adobe Stock

Online dating scams on the rise

Online dating scams are on the rise. These cybercriminals pose as romantic partners to gain the trust and affection of their victims.


Online dating scams on the rise. Image: Adobe Stock

With Valentine’s Day, the American Association of Retired Persons, better known as the AARP, revealed that online dating scams are on the rise. These scams, which generally occur through online dating sites, apps, and other online avenues, see cybercriminals posing as romantic partners to gain the trust and affection of their victims.

An uptick in dating app usage

In their recent findings, VPN provider ExpressVPN found that dating apps experience an uptick in users and activity in the weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day. As more people sign up for dating apps before February 14, so do more scammers.

Their article also found that approximately 547 million USD was lost to dating scammers in 2021. Closer to home, a study by technology and online security news site Techshielder has found that South Africa is one of 20 countries in the world where people are more likely to fall victim to online romance scams.

In 2021, eight Nigerian men were accused of being involved in a long-standing internet dating scam, with victims in the U.S. The accused allegedly defrauded more than 100 victims of almost 7 million US in the past decade.

How can people protect themselves?

Despite these concerning numbers, there are measures people can take if they want to protect themselves and ensure that they don’t fall victim to online dating scams.

While on dating apps, it’s worth being vigilant and ensuring that you’re not accidentally falling for a scammer. For starters, carefully look at a dating profile and determine if something is amiss. More often than not, scammers provide little information about themselves on their profiles and may not include many photos of themselves or even use photos of others, which can be suspicious.

Additionally, observe how someone you’re speaking to on a dating app interacts with you. For example, do they always turn the conversation toward topics like cryptocurrency, investing, and finance? While these are perfectly normal topics, it can be suspicious when a person consistently wants to discuss them, as they’re usually connected to scams and serves as the perfect lead-up to asking someone for financial information.

Lastly, observe if the scammer attempts to take the conversation off a dating app or site.  To avoid detection or the possibility of getting banned on a platform, scammers will try to convince their victims to speak to them on private messaging apps like Telegram, WhatsApp, or even Google Meets. This allows them to move the conversation along faster and ask for things without fear.

By speaking to their victim off the app, scammers give the impression that the relationship is going on to the next level, which tricks their victims into thinking things are going in the right direction. Staying vigilant will undoubtedly prevent people from falling victim to online love scams and other forms of scams.

If you or anyone you know has fallen victim to an online love scam, report and block the scammer and take screenshots of all your interactions with this person. These screenshots can come in handy during police investigations.

ALSO READ: Top five tips to nurture trust and intimacy in your relationship