​The psychology of the online dating romance scam

Author(s) Whitty, Monica and Tom Buchanan
Title The psychology of the online dating romance scam
Source University of Leicester; April 2012, , p 1-23
Date 2014
Document type Research report
Summary The main aims of this research project on online dating romance scam were to identify people at risk of becoming a victim; examine the persuasive techniques used to scam victims; and examine the psychological consequences of being a victim of an online romance scam. Data for the study was obtained from 200 posts on a public online peer support group and in depth interviews with 20 victims. It was found that the people who held high romantic beliefs and were likely to fall in love quickly were at the greatest risk of being a victim of online romance scam. The persuasive techniques used by the criminals were explored, including grooming, creation of hyperpersonal relationships, and the progression for asking for money. A range of psychological effects were reported by the victims including depression, shame, embarrassment, anger and feeling suicidal. The report concludes by offering advice to online dating companies, law enforcement officers, policy makers and health professionals, for crime prevention and support for the victim.
Keywords Online fraud; scams; victims; fraudster; techniques; online dating; romance scams; psychological effects; crime prevention
Topic Non-violent crime