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A recent study indicates that up to 10 percent of Americans use online dating websites or mobile applications.

As the number of people looking to meet new people online grows, so does the opportunity for fraud.

A great diversity of online dating services currently exists.

Some have a broad membership base of diverse users looking for many different types of relationships.

It can happen like this: “Maria” signed up for an online dating service and was contacted by “Andrew,” who claimed to be an American overseas on business in Australia.

Maria and Andrew seemed to hit it off and began planning a road trip for that summer when Andrew would come back to the U. Andrew sent Maria a check for ,000 to cover the cost of their trip, but then suddenly asked her to send ,500 back to him because he needed money for rent after being laid off from his job.

But fake profiles abound, sexual predators use the sites, and some common online dating behavior—like meeting alone after scant acquaintance, sharing personal information, and using geolocation—puts users at risk.

Dating companies are being pushed to better protect users, but some seem reluctant to do more— or even to talk about whether there’s a problem.

Members can constrain their interactions to the online space, or they can arrange a date to meet in person.

But Leech wants other protections, like giving users alerts about potential risks before they ever begin chatting with strangers.

Is this scaremongering, or is online dating truly putting users in danger?

Some scam artists use bogus profiles to con the people they meet out of hundreds or thousands of dollars.

Criminals who perpetrate online dating and romance scams use emotional appeals to quickly gain their victims’ trust and then, just as quickly, exploit it.


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