What's Behind Online Dating Fraud? iovation Quantifies the How Often, What, When and Where

Days Before Valentine's Day, iovation Reveals Statistics and Consumer Safety Advice

PORTLAND, OR--(Marketwired - Feb 5, 2015) - iovation, the trusted source for mobile and online fraud prevention, today released statistics, insights and advice surrounding the anatomy of online dating fraud. This includes specifics around what kind of scams cybercriminals perpetrate, when fraudsters strike, how often fraud occurs and where the fraud originates from.

"With the rise in online dating memberships, fraudsters have looked to advantage," said Molly O'Hearn, Vice President of Operations at iovation. "The one thing that online dating scammers have in common is that their preferred target demographic is vulnerable and trusting people with a limited social circle or support group."

How Much Fraud Occurs
In 2014, 1.37 percent of all transactions on online dating sites were fraudulent. In comparison, iovation says 1.24 percent of all transactions it monitored across all industries in 2014 were fraudulent. In February 2014 -- the time period where people increasingly seek companionship around Valentine's Day -- 1.46 percent of all online dating transactions were fraudulent. On February 14, 2014 -- Valentine's Day -- 1.41 percent of all transactions were fraudulent on online dating sites.

In this case, iovation defines transactions as any interaction a customer has with an online dating site such as account registration, activation, login, account management and purchase.

Top Types of Fraud
The top five types of fraud that occur on online dating sites, in order of most to least perpetrated, are:

1. Scams/solicitations -- User takes advantage of the community to promote nonexistent services and products, or to solicit services from legitimate members
2. Spam -- Person is caught sending unsolicited bulk messages via emails, postings, and instant messages to promote other products, websites or companies
3. Credit card fraud -- Cybercriminal uses a fake or stolen credit card to create multiple or premium accounts to scam users
4. Profile misrepresentation -- Fraudster posts inaccurate identity information in a profile and/or uses bogus profile photos
5. Identity mining -- Scammer makes any attempt to illegitimately acquire personal information from other users through means of phishing, keystroke logging, creating fake business websites and other methods

"Scammers used to build relationships only to later repeatedly solicit funds, but now they are causing even more harm," said O'Hearn. "Acts of blackmail are rapidly increasing. Fraudsters build trust until they convince individuals to send compromising photos or video, and then blackmail their victim with threats to send the media to friends and family if they don't send money. It's very important that online daters understand the typical scenarios that put them at risk and watch safety videos provided by the dating sites."

Where Fraudsters Live
The highest percentage of fraudulent transactions on online dating sites in 2014 originated from these countries:

1. Nigeria -- 29 percent
2. Ghana -- 26 percent
3. Ivory Coast -- 15 percent
4. Vietnam -- 10 percent
5. Argentina -- 8 percent

When Fraud Occurs
According to iovation, the highest percentage of fraud attempts on online dating sites in 2014 occurred between 9am to 12pm UTC. This is 1am to 4am PST and 4am to 7am EST.

What Consumers Should Look For
There are many telltale signs that someone's looking to defraud you on an online dating site. Some of the more common clues are:

  • Being asked to move the conversation off of the dating site too soon
  • An unusual use of words, bad grammar and/or excessive punctuation
  • Someone geographically far from you attempts to strike up a conversation
  • After minimal contact, someone professes strong feelings
  • Claims of working out of the country for an extended time
  • Online personality varies to extremes
  • Profile picture or photograph looks different from their description
  • Personal information or phone number is requested too soon

"An increasingly common dating scam that occurs on dating sites experience is when fraudsters target older females in rural areas and shower them with kindness. The scammers claim to be engineers working outside of the country on a big project. They court their victims extensively, even sending presents on special days," said Jon Karl, Vice President of Corporate Development at iovation. "When the fraudsters feel the time is right, they say they have an emergency, can't access their bank account back home, and need money wired to them immediately. In many cases, the victims fall for the scam."

What Businesses Should Look For
Knowing the true location of scammers, and when they are hiding behind proxies or using Tor -- a privacy protocol that is intended to help people to browse the Internet anonymously -- is extremely helpful to dating sites for protecting their members. iovation has a unique view into the activity of Internet-enabled devices across the globe. By protecting online businesses in a variety of industries, including dating, gaming, financial services, retail and others, iovation's shared device intelligence helps businesses sort good customers from the bad.

"We looked at a laptop that had visited 18 different dating sites within a month. Many of our clients had already associated the device with credit card fraud, phishing, profile misrepresentation, identity theft and other abuses. Since these 18 dating sites all use iovation's risk service, they were able to understand the high risk of doing business with that device (and the user behind it) and deny the registration attempts," said Jon Karl. "When that same laptop visited our financial clients to set up money transfer accounts (to use when their "emergency" hit) and visited our shipping clients (to ship "gifts" to their victims), they were denied as well. That's the power of iovation's cybercrime intelligence network."

To learn more about the power of device intelligence to stop fraudsters, download this guide: http://bit.ly/1DArRIU.

About iovation
iovation protects online businesses and their end users against fraud and abuse through a combination of advanced device identification, shared device reputation and real-time risk evaluation. More than 3,000 fraud managers representing global retail, financial services, insurance, social network, gaming and other companies leverage iovation's database of more than 2 billion Internet devices and the relationships between them to determine the level of risk associated with online transactions. The company's device reputation database is the world's largest, used to protect 12 million transactions and stop an average of 200,000 fraudulent activities every day. The world's foremost fraud experts share intelligence, cybercrime tips and online fraud prevention techniques in iovation's Fraud Force Community, an exclusive virtual crime-fighting network. For more information, visit iovation.com.

Contact Information:

iovation Inc.
Connie Gougler