Half of Britain’s online daters suspect they’ve been “catfished” as new research reveals an alarming rise in internet romance scams
Ruses involving tricksters luring daters into romance or financial stings are affecting increasing numbers of those looking for love online.
London, 16th July 2015: A survey of 1,500 current internet daters in the UK, commissioned by internet security firm BullGuard, showed that significant numbers suspect they’ve been catfished or subject to dating scams or fraud.
The results show that a third think they have been lied to at some point since starting internet dating, with one in five claiming they have been chatting to a suitor online who was trying to gather financial information from them for fraudulent purposes.
BullGuard’s research, which explored the perils of internet dating, also revealed that 15 per cent of those quizzed said they have been a victim of a dating scam.
Worryingly more than one in five have shared their bank details with someone they met on a date and nearly a quarter said they had to fork out for everything unexpectedly.
Of those surveyed, 10 per cent had been asked to lend a date money and they gave them some. But a more savvy 22 per cent said they refused to hand over money and subsequently never saw them again.
Cam Le, Security Expert at BullGuard said: “While online dating is an increasingly popular trend and can be a very successful platform on which to meet like-minded people, it can also potentially open you up to identity fraud if you’re not aware of the dangers.
“It’s very difficult to get the balance right between being friendly and engaging with new people and giving too much away.
“If anyone is asking for too much personal information soon after striking up conversation, then alarm bells should start ringing.
“If something feels wrong then hold back.”
The study also revealed the typical adult chats to four individuals a week and will disclose personal information that could compromise their security after exchanging just five instant messages.
Confidential details such as home address, surname and phone numbers are shared within minutes of meeting a stranger on the web for the majority of people looking for love.
Three in ten daters give out their phone number after just a few messages, claiming it’s easier to chat via text or other messaging application.
The survey revealed three quarters of those studied were in agreement that there is a very fine line between being friendly and chatty on dating sites and giving out too much information.
In fact, 16 per cent claim that in order to get to know someone you have to give out certain details like where you live, where you work and family information as it’s impossible to kick-start conversations without covering these topics.
One in five say that if someone seems harmless they are happy to confide in them – but three quarters of internet daters admit the etiquette and rules regarding online safety are a minefield.
A third said they worry they are not meeting ‘the one’ because they are paranoid about giving out information about themselves and are coming across as cold.
A wise 46 per cent of people say they will immediately stop messaging someone if something feels off.
But a keen 10 per cent said they would always meet them in person before ruling someone out.
More than a third (35 per cent) said you have to give the benefit of the doubt to people you meet online as building a rapport over the internet is so tricky.
Four in ten internet daters say they often speak to people via dating sites and apps who are reluctant to meet up in person.
And more than a quarter of those polled said they had been on a date where they got the impression that the person was trying to establish their financial status.
Subjects they were quizzed on included ‘What does your dad do for a living?’ ‘What car do you drive?’ and ‘What do you spend your money on?’
The poll found 45 per cent of adults who are looking for love said they often stumble across potential suitors that seem suspicious or just too good to be true. And yet half of those would still be willing to meet up regardless.
Cam Le, Security Expert at BullGuard added: “The old saying “if something seems too good to be true it usually is” can unfortunately be applied to online dating in many cases.
”Scammers do exist on dating sites and it’s important to be aware of the tricks that they use to try and entice people to share too much.
“Though it’s important not to be too paranoid about who you might be talking to, it’s also important to be aware that these scams exist, and to stay vigilant about who you meet and how much you give away.”
The study showed the most popular dating sites or apps currently in the UK are Plentyoffish.com, Match.com and Tinder.