Your hot date may be a hotline to becoming a scam victim | #datingscams | #lovescams

Technology has disrupted many aspects of traditional life.

When you are sitting at dinner and seeing a couple going out on a ‘first date’, consider this may be their first in-person date and that they have been interacting (dating) online for months.

According to global data and business intelligence platform Statista, the number of online dating users in South Africa is expected to reach 6.7 million users by 2028.

The report added the current user penetration rate of dating websites is believed to be 8.0% and may increase to 10.4% by 2028.

While this is good news for nervous daters, the head of product development at the Southern African Fraud Prevention Service Nzia Karrim warned people about the darker side of online dating.

She explained that romance scams originate with the victim being romantically manipulated via online dating websites or apps.

Additionally, can victims also be targeted by scammers who are introduced to victims by people the victims believe are friends.

Increased isolation

Karrim pointed out that romance scams significantly increased during the Covid-19 pandemic when South Africans felt the impact of being isolated from the rest of society.

“Online dating is the future. However, users need to be aware of the risks that are associated with these platforms,” warned Karrim.

Modus operandi

She added it was important to note that romance scams are not the only way people are being swindled out of their money.

Karrim stated SAFPS has noticed romance scams were increasingly used as a gateway to run other scams.
Additionally, scammers were running investment scams and business scams using their victims to target their family, friends, or co-workers.

Prevention is better than cure

To combat this, Karrim said people must do a thorough background check and always be vigilant.

“Do your investigation. Additionally, suggest an in-person meeting and if they are reluctant or evasive, this should be a major red flag.”

Because of the increase in scams in South Africa, the SAFPS launched Yima, a platform offering online tools to prevent consumers from falling victim to these scams.

Karrim said the Yima platform has proven effective in the proactive fight against fraud.

Increased reporting

Manie van Schalkwyk, CEO of the SAFPS, warned while the SAFPS and CSIR statistics painted a picture of the growing nature of romance scams, it was only a fraction of the crime’s full impact.

“Unfortunately, there is a growing trend of victims not reporting these types of crimes to the authorities and the SAFPS because they often feel ashamed and question their ability to judge character. This should never be the case, as they were caught by professional scammers. The SAFPS encourages all victims to report these crimes to the SAFPS and the SAPS. This has been made very easy by Yima,” said Van Schalkwyk.

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