#ShouldaBeenVerified: Romance Scams Cost Victims $14,000 Each in 2014

Women over 40 most vulnerable to the FBI’s top reported scam last year;

Who’s Watching Grandma?

We talk a lot about online dating scams here at BV and that’s no coincidence. As a company that started with the goal of building trust among different parties online, romance scams were one of a number of problems we wanted to help our customers avoid. Unfortunately, since we first covered this topic years ago, online dating and romance scams have only grown more successful as online dating as a whole has gained popularity.

Women over the age of 40 are most likely to fall into the arms of a romance scam artist.
Women over the age of 40 are most likely to fall into the arms of a romance scam artist.

Confirmation of this came recently from the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3). The IC3 report noted that online romance scams were the leading drivers of Internet fraud in 2014, with victims being cheated out of a whopping total of over $800 million, or about $14,000 per victim on average.

NBC News pointed out that women over the age of 40 were by far the most likely demographic to be swindled out of their money while having their hearts broken shortly thereafter. Despite men making up a larger percentage of online fraud victims as a whole, 70% of all romance scam victims in 2014 were women over the age of 40.

The fact that older, single women are preyed upon disproportionately is understandable when one of the most common and successful romance scams involves con artists impersonating members of the military, often using the occupation as a convincing reason for not being able to meet their romantic interest and soon-to-be victim in person.

The report makes clear that younger people seem less susceptible to such romance scams online, and loneliness bred from old age and isolation in particular has always been a key ingredient for vulnerability to such scams.

So while you may be OK, when is the last time you checked in with your Grandma or Grandpa, Mom or Dad?

If you’re worried about whom they are chatting with online, then share the tips with her at the end of this article and take steps to help her verify the identities and locations of any new and unfamiliar online “friends.”

The success of this breed of online romance scams clearly shows its effectiveness at fooling a broad range of people across America. If you don’t think it can happen to someone you know and love, are you willing to bet $14,000 on it?

 

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Hillary’s Campaign: Too Similar to Mature Dating Site’s?

 

Hillary Clinton formally announced her run for President over the weekend, via Twitter. Showing social media savvy may be a good way to connect with some her party’s younger voters who turned out in droves for her former campaign rival, Barack Obama, during the 2008 campaign.

Not the brand association Hillary wants.
Not the brand association Hillary wants.

Unfortunately, this opening move might be slightly negated by her team’s choice of campaign slogan, “It’s Your Time.” As The Daily Caller points out, such a slogan, in addition to sounding like a cheesy self-help webinar ad, also echoes the tagline of online dating site OurTime.com, which helps Americans in their 50s and 60s find love.

The similarity is especially unfortunate in this case, as Clinton’s age will likely be made a potential issue should she win the nomination. In fact, as the same article points out, Republican candidates have already started to highlight it in connecting the new Clinton campaign as a relic of a past better forgotten.

Clinton would be the second oldest President to win, after Ronald Reagan, if she were to win it this time around.

What do you think? Is this a non-story that will be the first in many to fill the gaps in what is likely to be a stroll for Hillary to her party’s nomination and potentially back to the White House? Or is the choice of slogan a sign of early sloppiness that may show she hasn’t learned all her lessons from 2008? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

 See also: 10 Compelling Niche Online Dating Sites

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Online Dating: Don’t “Happn” Upon the Wrong Person

 

With all the investment flowing into the online dating space at the moment, it’s understandable that increasingly outlandish ideas will find backers and then appear in your mobile phone’s app store almost as quickly as they were dreamt up.

Happn wants to create more spontaneous coffee dates.
Happn wants to create more spontaneous coffee dates.

The latest incarnation, aimed at those who don’t find Tinder risqué enough, is Happn, an app that takes instant matching to the next level. What level that is exactly, is “to be determined”… just like the backgrounds of the dates that Happn will set you up with. That’s because Happn connects you to people in your precise physical location. In other words, those right inside your neighborhood coffee shop, at your regular supermarket, or next door to your apartment. In short, whomever you happen to “cross paths with.”

In one way, Happn, a French company that has launched its app in New York and as of this week, San Francisco, is the closest to the experience of “real life” encounters that often lead to first dates that any online dating platform has yet achieved. Happn’s backers have compared it to Craigslist’s missed connections page, whereby now their users will be able to more effectively act on such experiences.

Similar to the aims of Coupleizer, Happn tries to dispense with the elaborate pre-game show of multiple messages, elaborate profiles and weeks-long beanplating that can occur before an often disappointing and abruptly ended first date. In this way, Happn is firmly in the Tinder camp of “date now, ask questions later.”

As we mentioned in our post on Coupleizer, this approach does have some advantages. For example, many con artists rely on building up an emotional connection online which can play out over many months of messaging before they seek money or otherwise cause problems for their vulnerable victims. An online dating platform that cuts to the chase, will obviously not appeal to such elements.

However, we have also voiced our concerns about the immediacy of Tinder-style dating apps, their geo-location features and the pressure of matching with someone near you. Happn’s approach takes these concerns and elevates them to a new level. As Fast Company reports in its profile of the app, Happn zooms in on your location, within 275 yards.

This brings up any number of concerns, especially for those who have been stalked or harassed in the past. Additionally, at a time when many are concerned about their privacy and digital footprint, offering anyone who happens to use the same app as you the ability to potentially track your movements, raises alarm bells.

Keeping in mind how quickly flirting in a first message or date can go to malicious harassment afterwards, we think there are enough concerns here for users to seriously consider the use case for this app before crossing paths with anyone who “happns” by.

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Tinder Charges Older Users Extra For Premium Access

 

Question: What’s more difficult than kissing your carefree twenties goodbye?

Answer: The realization that with your 30th birthday, Tinder will charge you twice as much to access its Tinder Plus premium service.

Tinder 3-3-15
Your Tinder Plus dates will be more expensive if you’re 30 and up. Photo credit: Chris Goldberg

What will Tinder Plus offer?

For starters, the much coveted ability to “reverse swipe,” which allows users to reconsider potential dates they have rejected. This will be a clutch added feature for those particularly desperate nights when users find new matches unavailable or unwilling. Additionally, Tinder Plus features Passport, the ability to browse users in different locations.

Unfortunately, if you’re 30 and older and want to enjoy these amazing benefits, you’ll need to pony up $20 per month, compared to just $10 per month for those 29 and under.

A spokesperson for Tinder defended the pricing structure by pointing to the harsh economic realities facing younger users, who have less pocket money to spend despite the fact that they all share each other’s Netflix and HBO Go passwords.

While the bold pricing move may surprise some, those familiar with our coverage of Tinder before shouldn’t be too shocked. Tinder’s success and fame is largely down to its popularity with younger users and its success at inserting itself into youth pop culture has been impressive.

In fact, as we have previously noted, the fastest growing age segment on Tinder is aged 13-17, registering 7% of total users according to Tinder’s CEO earlier this year. Far from viewing this as a problem for a site known for encouraging promiscuous hookups, Tinder’s business strategy likely involves growing their younger user base.

As Snapchat’s recent valuation has demonstrated, capturing younger users’ attentions and holding them long enough for advertisers to inject their products into their consciousness is a golden ticket for many of the new school of social networking and dating apps.

Ironically, for those apps like Tinder that have built their infrastructure around Facebook, the latter’s aging demographics may be a hindrance to staying top of mind with college-aged kids and twenty-somethings.

Hence we have the first of what may be many moves like it to continue to prioritize and incentivize younger users at the expense of us old fogies.

Perhaps, though, this is a blessing in disguise for older, more serious online daters as the platform’s suitability for delivering high quality matches is questionable at best. When polled, 64% of Tinder users viewed the app as “a game to play with” rather than a serious dating site.

Combined with its growing number of younger teenage users, perhaps the mature crowd is better spending its money elsewhere.

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