Every year, thousands of people are dragged into Internet scams through online dating sites. The scenario is pretty common: A scammer will pretend to be someone they’re not, profess their love to an unsuspecting romantic, then manage to weasel thousands of dollars out of them within a matter of months or sometimes weeks.
We should know by now that not all people we meet online are who they say they are, but new research shows that a certain type of person is more vulnerable to these scams than others. A study conducted by Dr. Martin Graff at the University of South Wales, and presented at the British Psychological Society Annual Conference in Nottingham, finds that sensitive people are far more likely to fall prey to online dating scams than others, suggesting that if you’re an overly-emotional type, you may want to be extra careful online.
“Perpetrators of dating scams simply set up false profiles on dating websites with the sole purpose of extracting money from their victims,” said Graff in a statement. “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.”
Graff examined 90 people who had been victims of online dating scams, having them complete surveys about their personality, relationships to other people, self-esteem and emotional intelligence; their age and gender were also taken into account. He found that the participants had generally used dating sites for less than four weeks, and lost huge sums of money — from $75 to nearly $10,000.
When it came to personality traits, those more likely to be vulnerable to scams tended to be efficient and organized, even though they were more sensitive and had lower emotional intelligence. The victims were also more likely to express emotion and to become attached to or preoccupied with others, hinting that they may have a tendency to develop romantic interests quickly, seek approval and validation from romantic interests, and overlook potential red flags.
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