-- Robert Preidt
THURSDAY, April 19 (HealthDay News) -- Online dating scams leave
many victims feeling doubly traumatized, according to a small new
This is because scammers not only try to steal money from their
victims but hoodwink them by pretending to have a meaningful
connection with them. Victims therefore lose both their money and
what they believed was a significant relationship.
The U.K. study included 11 women and 4 men who were victims of
online dating scams. Participants provided a full description of
the scam and were asked questions such as why they believe they
fell victim and how they were mentally affected by the scam.
The results showed that basic marketing techniques were used to
groom victims, increasing the feelings of a genuine relationship
and leaving victims susceptible to fraud, said Professor Monica
Whitty of the University of Leicester.
"Our data suggests that the numbers of British victims of this relatively new crime is much higher than reported incidents show," Whitty said in a university news release. "It also confirms law enforcement suspicions that this is an underreported crime, and thus more serious than first thought."
"This is a concern not solely because people are losing large sums of money to these criminals, but also because of the psychological impact experienced by victims of this crime," she added. "It is our view that the trauma caused by this scam is worse than any other, because of the 'double hit' experienced by the victims -- loss of money and loss of romantic relationship."
The study also found that people most likely to fall victim to
online romantic scams are those with strong romantic beliefs who
idealized romantic partners.
The findings were to be presented April 19 at the annual meeting
of the British Psychological Society, in London.
The U.S. Department of State has more about
online romance and dating scams.
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