Criminal gangs are using online dating sites to steal hundreds of thousand of pounds from their victims, the boss of eHarmony has said.
Fraudsters are using a technique known as catfishing, where a person uses a fake identity to attract those looking for genuine dates, to trick victims into sending them money.
The culprits will often build trust with potential victims before begging them for money to help them with an emergency situation, for instance a mugging or medical treatment. In extreme cases, victims can part with hundreds of thousands of pounds.
Catfishing is also used to fool people into believing they are dating someone else.
Grant Langston, chief executive of the dating service that boasts 70 million members in over 30 countries, told The Mail on Sunday that “crime organisations” are “almost always” behind catfishing money scams
His admission comes at a time when fraud against dating app users in the UK is at an all-time high.
Users of dating apps and websites in the UK were conned out of over £39m (€44m) in 2016, according to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau.
A woman only identified as Nancy, a 47-year-old single mother from North Yorkshire, lost £350,000 (€396,000) after she was duped by a fraudster.
“I wasn’t comfortable, and then I got so far in I couldn’t get myself out, and I didn’t want to walk away having lost £50,000 (€56,500) or what-have-you, so you keep going in the hope that you’re wrong and this person is genuine,” she explained to the BBC.