Is That Online Dating Profile Real?

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. People, especially Internet users, are either happily coupled up and doing something lovey-dovey, or they’re hunting around on dating sites for their soulmate. Because, you know, true love only happens on the Internet. Unfortunately for some, there’s danger in online dating.

“Cyber criminals are constantly looking for that common interest to capitalize on and in this case it’s love,” said Molly O’Hearn, Vice President of Operations at Iovation. “Just like in the face-to-face world, if something seems too good to be true it probably is.”

Iovation explains the seven different ways online dating abuse can happen.

  • Credit Card Fraud – Using a fake or stolen credit card, users create multiple accounts and scam others.
  • Spamming – This happens a lot via email. When it happens on Internet dating sites, it takes the method of sending unsolicited bulk messages via email, postings and IMs. Like that Facebook “Win an iPad3!” scam, the spammer is promoting a specific product.
  • Scams and Solicitations – Like that crazy door-to-door salesman who keeps trying to sell innocent people on a 3-for-1 neighborhood pizza deal that just doesn’t exist, scams and solicitations on online dating sites try to get community members to take advantage of nonexistent products and services.
  • Identity Mining – This method involves scoring personal information through phishing, keystroke logging and fake business websites.
  • Profile Misrepresentation – A user is – gasp! – not who they say they are. It is the Internet, after all.
  • Harassment/Bullying – Like mean teenagers online, people on Internet dating sites harass or abuse others unnecessarily.
  • Chat Abuse – For anyone who leaves the chat function on, it’s easy to creep up on other community members and harrass them through chat.

Iovation recently discovered a 150% increase in fraud attempts directed at dating websites and their customers. In 2011, Iovation found that 3.8% of transactions that took place over online dating sites were fake. That is a 150% increase from 2010, when the percentage was only at 1.4%. Things remained about the same in 2009, at 1.5%. In total, Iovation has halted 60 million fraud attempts on online dating sites.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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