Some criminals will go to large lengths to get what they want. Some will even pretend to be in love with you.
Since the creation of the internet, the ways people date and find love have changed drastically. The introduction of emails got the ball rolling, a classic Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan film called ‘You’ve Got Mail tells the story of two book-selling rivals who unknowingly fall in love with each other over email.
A few years later, the notorious Lovebug computer infection hit the globe. Over 10 million people opened an email titled ‘ILOVEYOU’ which included a file named ‘LETTER-FOR-YOU.TXT.vbs’ which infected their computers and overwrote their files.
The next wave of internet communications came with the creation of Skype and Online Chat Rooms. Filmmakers Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost sensed a story unfolding when Ariel’s brother, Nev, fell in love with a girl in an online chat room. Documenting the exhilarating and unsettling months that led up to Nev meeting whom he believed to be the girl he’d fallen for, the documentary ‘Catfish’ was created, which is now a popular TV show worldwide.
To cap off the evolution of online dating, in 1995 a website called ‘Match.com’ was put online. Match would become the first online dating website created and is still around today. Since then, more and more dating websites have been released. Dating websites evolved into dating apps, and the difficulty of writing your dating profile simplified to picking your favourite 5 pictures of yourself, hoping “the one” will “swipe right”.
In the UK 1 in 5 relationships now start online, for people under the age of 30 it is 2 in 5.
This huge rise in popularity for online dating applications and websites has created a huge platform for criminal opportunists. A recent Netflix documentary called ‘The Tinder Swindler’ has been a global phenomenon, detailing the lengths one man went to, to con women out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The huge growth in romance-related scams has led TSB to release a report on their findings. TSB found that women accounted for 66% of romance-related scams, with the average online “relationship” lasting 62 days.
According to TSB, the average amount a victim lost to romance fraud was £6,100, and in some cases, there were multiple transactions with payments being made for over 2 weeks.
TSBs report brings to light the growing dangers of online dating, restating the message that when talking to strangers online, you never really know who you are talking to.