How Internet relationships can be used to deceive lovers

The dark side of online romance: how cybercriminals are taking advantage of vulnerable daters in search of love.

The search for love is a common desire among millions of people, and the internet has become an increasingly popular tool for finding a match. However, this technological advancement also poses its own set of challenges and risks. Romance scams have become more prevalent in recent years, as cybercriminals take advantage of the anonymity offered by the internet to deceive and manipulate others.

These scams can have serious consequences, both in terms of romance and finance. Scammers typically create fake profiles on social networks and dating apps to target unsuspecting individuals who are looking for love online. They use convincing language and promises to lure victims into believing they are in a genuine romantic relationship, before asking for financial assistance under the guise of an emergency or problem. Once they receive the money, they disappear without a trace.

The rise in romance scams has been particularly noticeable during Valentine’s Day, as cybercriminals capitalize on the emotions and vulnerabilities associated with this holiday. In fact, Santander analysis revealed that the occurrence of romance scams has increased significantly over time, with methods becoming increasingly sophisticated and deceptive. Approximately one-third of the population in the United Kingdom has fallen victim to these scams, while in the United States Federal Trade Commission reported an increase in this type of fraud since the onset of the pandemic, with victims aged 60 or over losing around $180 million alone.

Virtual criminals are adept at exploiting vulnerabilities such as loneliness and desperation when searching for love online. Eset estimated that by 2025, the global online dating market will reach almost $3.6 billion, but criminal profits from romance scams have already surpassed $600 million in 2021 alone. One victim’s story illustrates how deceptive these scams can be: after gaining her trust with personal information shared over months of conversation via text message

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