Sensitive people vulnerable to online scams

Study focused on online dating scams
  • Deborah Condon

People who are sensitive are more vulnerable to online dating scams, new research suggests.

Dr Martin Graff of the University of South Wales questioned over 90 people who had fallen victim to online dating scams. They were questioned about a range of things, including their personality, emotional intelligence and self-esteem.

"Perpetrators of dating scams simply set up false profiles on dating websites with the sole purpose of extracting money from their victims. The scammer first grooms a victim by expressing love for them before outlining their desperate circumstances. They then attempt to request money from the victim. Our study focused on why some individuals are more likely to become the victims of these scams than others," Dr Graff explained.

The study found that despite using dating sites for less than four weeks, the victims had given amounts of money ranging from £50 (€64) to £63,000 (€80,877).

It also found that while the victims tended to be organised, disciplined and efficient, they also tended to be more sensitive and display a preoccupied attachment style. In other words, they were overly dependent on, and seeking approval from, the person they were attached to.

Dr Graff warned that with an increasing number of people turning to online dating sites, ‘more and more people are likely to fall victim'.

"Scammers use sophisticated techniques and eventually may begin to know exactly the sort of people to target and how to manipulate them. These findings will be beneficial to dating sites and law enforcement agencies in attempting to protect the vulnerable from being scammed," he commented.

He called for further research in this area.

Dr Graff presented his findings at the annual conference of the British Psychological Society in Nottingham in the UK.


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