Saffers among most likely in the world to fall for online romance scams

In 2020, dating scams cost the world more than R3bn, which works out to an average loss of about R250,000 per victim. Stock image
In 2020, dating scams cost the world more than R3bn, which works out to an average loss of about R250,000 per victim. Stock image
Image: 123RF/ georgejmclittle

South Africa has been identified as one of 20 countries in the world where people are most likely to fall victim to online romance scams.

Techshielder, a technology and online security news website, conducted a study using domestic and international reports to find the countries where such scams are most rife.

The research found that in 2020, dating scams cost the world more than R3bn, which works out at an average loss of about R250,000 per victim.

The Philippines topped the list with 1,315 reports followed by Nigeria with 1,129 reports and Canada with 1,054.

South Africa was further down the list with 190 cases reported.

“At the other end we have the European country of Iceland. The nation has only accounted for one case of dating scam and has stolen no money at all,” said Lasse Walstad, Techshielder co-founder.

“Finding love online can be difficult, especially if the person you trusted turns out not to be who they said they are.

“Cat fishing scams, also known as dating scams or romance scams, have seen a huge increase over the course of the pandemic. Fraudsters have not only left many people broken-hearted but also have left their pockets empty,” said Walstad.

Cat fishing has been defined as creating a fake profile to attract someone online.

Fraudsters befriend victims over the internet in the hope they can convince them to send money.

“It should be noted that cat fishing is not always a romantic relationship. It can also come in the form of family, friends or business relationships,” said Walstad.

“A huge driving force for dating scams is the financial gains for the fraudsters. They build trust with the victims with the aim of getting them to send money under false pretences .

“In today’s society, it’s normal to meet and build a relationship online, especially during the pandemic. If you are dating over the internet, looking for the one, it’s important to be on your toes so you can spot when something is wrong or suspect.

“There are people out there who will take advantage of those looking for love. Before you fall for the whirlwind that is love or send any money, look out for red flags.

“If it’s too good to be true then it usually is,” said Walstad.

TimesLIVE


subscribe