And while numbers on scams are similarly hard to come by, the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center reported 5,600 cases of online dating scams back in 2011.
The trendy and easy-to-use apps that are making online dating more accessible could theoretically also be making it much easier for scammers and creeps to find new victims.
published a disturbing story about a 53-year-old California grandmother and widow who had gotten swept up in one of the oldest cons in the book: the sweetheart swindle. In no time at all, she received a message from a man going by the name of John, who claimed to be a 60-year-old widowed engineer from Colorado. He showered her with compliments, charmed her, and declared that she was "the one." Months later, John said that he had to make a business trip to Africa.
He was rocked by a series of emergencies soon after.
To resolve these emergencies, John asked for financial help from the widow.
The widow finally insisted that John reveal himself on a webcam.
But Leech wants other protections, like giving users alerts about potential risks before they ever begin chatting with strangers.
Is this scaremongering, or is online dating truly putting users in danger?
The widow's story is a classic case of a romance scam. But this is just the tip of the iceberg, as romance scams are grossly underreported.Instead of finding a middle-aged Coloradan, the widow found a college-aged Ghanaian.In spite of the unmasking of John's true identity, he continued to profess his love for the widow.Indeed, most relationship counselors, including The Rules Girls, Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider, agree that logging on can be a great way to meet your match. Online dating services also can be a good option if you frequently travel for work or have children or other responsibilities that make going out to meet people difficult.What's more, you're not confined to the area where you live.