**Editors Note: If everyone who was online dating were aware they would be contacted at least once by a romance scammer….would the number of victims still be this high? There is no single solution to stopping these scams but CupidScreen certainly provide the most extensive range of self help and professional services to combat them.**
ONLINE dating scammers have cost Australians almost $10 million over the first six months of this year.
According to the latest data from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, 4900 victims have lost almost $52 million to online dating scams since 2009 as Australians search for love online in unprecedented numbers.
The introduction by the ACCC of voluntary guidelines for dating websites in February this year has failed to curb the problem, with the number of complaints continuing to rise.
Online dating scams had a conversion rate of more than 50 per cent, which meant that more than half of people targeted on romance websites ended up losing money, often to international syndicates.
”Scammers spend time grooming their victims with techniques such as professing their emotional commitment or love and sharing false personal stories. The victims may be specifically targeted and vulnerable when making their personal details readily available,” an ACCC spokeswoman said.
Once the scammers have gained a victim’s trust, they usually organise a meeting, before claiming a last-minute death, sickness or accident and asking for financial details or the transfer of money via a wiring service.
The new guidelines launched by the ACCC on Valentine’s Day this year encourage website operators to check the profile pictures and internet protocol addresses of all new members. The scammers often steal images from modelling agency websites, while organised crime gangs were believed to be based in Nigeria, Ghana, eastern Europe and parts of Asia.
But eHarmony spokesman Jason Chuck said international syndicates constantly evolved and devised new ways to avoid detection.
”It’s difficult to pinpoint the origins of scams, when they can redirect IP addresses to other locations,” Mr Chuck said.
He said eHarmony had responded with a range of policies and technology checks to tackle the problem.
”We have an automated system that does a lot of checks for us, but we also have a full-time team that’s dedicated to monitoring the quality and the integrity of the user base. We also go to lengths to ensure that our users report any suspicious behaviour and that they sign off on our safety tips page before they begin any communications,” Mr Chuck said.
He said con artists were also less likely to target introduction agencies with paywalls in place.
Glenis Carroll, managing director of RSVP, which is owned by Fairfax Media, said the company also used technology to block suspicious accounts. But she urged people to exercise caution and common sense on any website.
”We will do everything we can to stop these people coming onto our sites, but there’s a basic rule – you never give money to someone you haven’t met. People are vulnerable and they believe the person they are corresponding with is genuine. So, when the request [for money] comes through, they act differently than they might otherwise,” Ms Carroll said.
Consumer Affairs Victoria advises people to be careful about providing personal information on social network sites and online chat rooms.
Singles using dating websites should also be aware that a financial advance received from a stranger online could also be part of a scam, according to CAV.
Republished from Sydney Morning Herald Webiste. To view the original article go here: http://www.smh.com.au/digital-life/consumer-security/online-daters-lose-millions-in-scams-20121208-2b2fl.html#ixzz2EVn6pPVI