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But while the number of dating sites has rocketed, so too have the incidences of fraud.
“Consumers must be aware that anything they do on the internet can be recorded and used for malevolent purposes,” warns Peter Barnes, director of global investigations at Western Union.While a sea of red and pink paper Valentines still keeps card shops in business, online dating has become the modern go-to option for many of those looking for love.Read our article on 'The trust cost of finding love' for the low-down on online dating sites.Conmen often consider older women to be ideal targets, because they are usually wealthier and more vulnerable than their younger counterparts.
For example, just a few months ago, newspapers reported the story of 61-year-old retired British teacher, Judith Stillwell, who handed her Kenyan husband £25,000 from her savings before discovering he was duping more than 40 “lovers” across the world.“Dating fraudsters are heartless criminals who mostly operate online to manipulate their victims into believing they’ve established a strong emotional bond,” says detective superintendent Pete O’Doherty at the City of London Police.
Some fraudulent suitors will befriend and flirt with their victim in conversation on an online dating chatroom, and then suggest the conversation should move to a social media site.