Online dating is a growing, lucrative industry: research from Mintel suggests that the value of the UK online dating market will reach £225 million by 2019, which is hardly surprising given that roughly a third of new relationships now start via a dating website. What is less known is that online dating is a regular target for scammers too: latest figures reveal that the number of online dating scam victims reached a record high in 2016, and cost £39m.
Unfortunately the £39m figure mentioned could be considerably lower than the real amount. People are often reluctant to report instances of romance fraud because they feel embarrassed, tricked into doing something that is suddenly and painfully revealed to be a big mistake.
To explore this growing industry, an online survey carried out by YouGov on behalf of Yoti looked at people’s attitudes towards online dating, specifically their feelings and concerns about meeting new people online. The survey was answered by 2,039 adults and was conducted between 5th-6th September 2016.
Given the dating fraud figures mentioned above, it’s unsurprising that 50% of people would not be confident the personal details on someone’s dating profile were true. Unless the site explicitly points out that all users have attended interviews or had background checks, it is likely that a profile can be created with nothing more than an email for verification. But further confirmation is needed; with 36% of people saying they’d like to check the identity of someone they meet on a dating website or app.
The problem is that the way we prove we are who we say we are (or the way we prove that someone is who they say they are) is outdated. It is too easy for someone to create a fake identity or claim the identity of someone else. Evidence suggests some form of assured identification is necessary to create a safer dating community.