Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Romantic delusions allow online dating scams to flourish

Date:
February 12, 2013
Source:
Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)
Summary:
As international criminal gangs increasingly target online dating and social networking sites, as a means of extorting money from unwary victims, research suggests that new strategies are needed for tackling the crime and supporting its victims.

As international criminal gangs increasingly target online dating and social networking sites, as a means of extorting money from unwary victims, research funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) suggests that new strategies are needed for tackling the crime and supporting its victims.

Related Articles


The research, which was carried out by Professor Monica Whitty of University of Leicester and Professor Tom Buchanan of the University of Westminster, argues that the police, policy-makers, doctors and dating companies need to take into account the emotional state of those who have been conned, in order to prevent the crime, bring criminals to justice and support victims effectively.

"Professionals need to understand the awful details of this crime," says Professor Whitty. "In romance scams, people have to deal not just with losing thousands of pounds. They have to deal with the psychological trauma of being both robbed and jilted by a 'lover'."

Almost 230,000 people in the UK have been conned by online romance fraudsters since 2007, according to the study. The criminals pretend to be seeking a relationship, using a fake profile and traditional grooming techniques, in order eventually to extort money from their would-be lover.

The study suggests that dating companies need to issue clear warnings on their sites so that users are aware of potential dangers 'before' they fall in love. Although some people interviewed by Professor Whitty became suspicious when they were asked for money, they were so infatuated with their fictional 'sweetheart' by that time that they chose to ignore the warning signs.

"Daters need to be told, from the moment they sign up, that if a person is not willing to meet them in the first month they should move on. They also need to be told never to respond to requests for money. Dating companies could target advice at particularly vulnerable individuals especially those with high romantic ideals, previous mental health problems or a history of abuse" says Professor Whitty

The study shows that victims are often in denial when they are told that their 'lover' is a fiction invented by criminal gangs to extort money. This has important implications for police work since it means that they are vulnerable to a second wave of attack. Furthermore, victims can feel suicidal when the scam is exposed. The study recommends that the police call in health professionals as soon as the crime is reported. Doctors should also be made aware of these suicidal tendencies.

If courts don't recognise the psychological trauma of the witnesses, there is a potential for cases to be jeopardised and criminals to remain unprosecuted, Professor Whitty believes. "Imagine having to confront a criminal in court when you had believed them to be the love of your life," says Professor Whitty. Standing in the witness box could be extremely intimidating. She suggests that new policies are needed, which identify victims of romance scams as 'vulnerable witnesses' with the right to give their evidence via a video-link.

Professor Whitty has been working closely with courts in several romance scam cases. Much of her advice has already been taken on board. She is also working with the Serious Organised Crime Agency in the UK as well as with international crime prevention organisations.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). "Romantic delusions allow online dating scams to flourish." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 February 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130212100420.htm>.
Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). (2013, February 12). Romantic delusions allow online dating scams to flourish. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130212100420.htm
Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). "Romantic delusions allow online dating scams to flourish." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130212100420.htm (accessed November 24, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Science & Society News

Monday, November 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Symantec Uncovers Sophisticated Spying Malware Regin

Symantec Uncovers Sophisticated Spying Malware Regin

Newsy (Nov. 24, 2014) A Symantec white paper reveals details about Regin, a spying malware of unusual complexity which is believed to be state-sponsored. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hackers Target Business Travellers

Hackers Target Business Travellers

Reuters - Business Video Online (Nov. 24, 2014) A newly detected malware, dubbed Darkhotel, infects hotel networks with spying software to steal sensitive data from the computers of high profile business executives, warns a leading computer security firm. Ciara Lee reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Newsy (Nov. 24, 2014) A new study links greater authority with increased depressive symptoms among women in the workplace. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
NY Gov. on Flood Prep: 'prepared for the Worst'

NY Gov. on Flood Prep: 'prepared for the Worst'

AP (Nov. 23, 2014) First came the big storm. Now comes the big melt for residents of flood-prone areas around Buffalo. New York's governor says officials are preparing for the worst as the temperature is expected to rise and potentially melt several feet of snow. (Nov. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Science & Society

Business & Industry

Education & Learning

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins