Online dating may have shed its saddo image but finding happiness is still troublesome for many after research revealed that almost half of those who use dating sites and apps have been either scammed or spammed.
Security firm Symantec, which quizzed more than 3,000 people across Europe about their quest for online love, found that many have fallen victim to blackmail, have been subjected to revenge porn and are tricked by people who assumed fake identities to steal cash.
“When people go online looking for love and affection they may not be as vigilant as they might be elsewhere,” said Nick Shaw, European head of Symantec’s Norton division. “They look for the good rather than the bad.”
The research showed that 48% of those questioned in the UK, France and Germany had received spam and scam messages from others on dating services.
Around 32% had received requests for cash from the people they got talking to and 28% had been tricked by someone who had assumed a fake identity by stealing images or videos.
About 32% had been threatened with the release of compromising images they had shared and 11% had seen this content put online without their consent.
“There is a lot of money swilling around in the online dating world and criminals will always go where there is money,” Shaw said.
The issue is hardly new – just ask anyone who has an Ashley Maddison account. And, according to a study by online monitoring company Netcraft into the £2.5bn UK industry, members of Match.com, eHarmony, Zoosk and many others are regularly inundated with emails seeking to steal their login details.
The Information Commissioner’s Office has also gone hunting for dating websites, although its six-month investigation into the industry – designed to crack down on shoddy data protection practices – was branded “limp as a lettuce” after it concluded consumers should read the terms and conditions more carefully.
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