Faking It

The development of information communications technologies is on the rise, implementing a seemingly more appealing way of dating. Seriously, who goes on dates anymore? I guess it's no longer the norm to have slightest hint of old-fashioned flavour to one's courtship. Our dependency on the Internet to establish relationships and maintain contact with one another has reached its peak. But how well do we know the person on the other side of the screen?

The virtual community of online dating is susceptible to various cyber-crimes such as romance scams and identity theft, and is problematic for matchmaking services and internet daters worldwide.

Romance scams are an emotionally damaging type of fraud, as scammers make their victims believe they have strong feelings for them. The act of committing a romance scam is a timely process that may take several months to execute effectively. Firstly, a fake profile is designed to essentially lure in victims by flirtatious headlines, impressive hobbies, attractive characteristics, and high quality pictures. The second part of the process involves communication between the scammer and the victim to generate a sense of trust and confidence to establish a "meaningful" attachment. Lastly, scammers conjure up troublesome circumstances that require money to rectify (e.g., travel expenses) and request financial assistance from victims.

In addition to direct emotional and financial harm, romance scams also affect victims indirectly. While some victims may not come into contact with scammers, their identities may be misused. Although identity theft occurs in the physical world, cyberspace allows scammers to impersonate others with tremendous ease. Scammers may use pictures from various modelling websites to create deceiving profiles and utilize information from innocent customers to formulate false identities.

The absence of face to face interaction available in the real world to validate identity can pose a risk to personal safety as scammers are often part of international criminal networks. Many individuals who participate in online dating possess doubtful mentalities that they are likely to be scammed, but it is important for internet daters to be aware of these precautions when entering into a virtual community.

Written By: Nicole Di Tomasso

Works Cited Foxworth, Darrell. "Looking for Love? Beware of Online Dating Scams." The FBI San Diego Division. 14 Feb. 2013. Web. 19 Nov. 2015.

Koon, Tan Hooi, and David Yoong. "Preying on lonely hearts: A systematic deconstruction of an internet romance scammer's online lover persona." Journal of Modern Languages 23 (2013): 28-40.

Rege, Aunshul. "What's love got to do with it? Exploring online dating scams and identity fraud." International Journal of Cyber Criminology 3.2 (2009): 494-512.