Tasneem Adams14 April 2024 | 8:39

'Money is the biggest red flag' - expert on online romance scams

Sara Jayne asks cyber-security specialist Shaun Pakade how safe online dating and dating apps are.

'Money is the biggest red flag' - expert on online romance scams

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay.

Scores of single people turn to online dating via dating apps or social media in the hope of finding 'the one'.

But remember the shocking tale of the Tinder Swindler?

Online romance scams like the one orchestrated by Israeli conman Simon Leviev might seem far-fetched, but in reality they're quite common. 

The modus operative is quite similar - victims are told that the purported online love interest has a financial predicament and desperately needs money. 

And in some cases, it ends up in tragedy. 

"It's a very lucrative industry as we live our lives in the online space. This has created an opportunity to solicit what they want online. Online dating scams prey on people that are vulnerable and are looking for love."
-Shaun Pakade, cyber security specialist

Romance scammers will typically target older people who are widowed, retired and have never had companionship. 

"Those people are financally viable. They won't target a 25 year old because they don't have money. But a 60 year old is probably retired or her husband passed away and she has life cover." 
-Shaun Pakade, cyber security specialist

Online dating scams are often emotional as they involve a long-build up to a relationship. A connection has to be created between the scammer and the victim. 

"The biggest red flag is when money is involved. That's the ultimate goal of online scamming. Even if you've met the person, the moment money is mentioned, then you need to re-think it." 
-Shaun Pakade, cyber security specialist

You're no safer swiping right on a profile that's been verified.

"You can be anything you want to be...it's not real. The safety measures are there on the platforms but they won't keep you safe. I would rather tell you to leave online and go outside and meet the person for coffee."
-Shaun Pakade, cyber security specialist

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