It’s a surprisingly common problem in online dating: First you think you’re falling in love, and next thing you know, you’re bankrolling your new boo’s VISA and airplane fare.
Bots, trolls, and scams galore exist across all dating apps, but it turns out that some personality types are victims to these schemes more often than others.
A new study led by Dr. Martin Graff from the department of life sciences and education at University of South Wales, found that sensitive people and those with less emotional intelligence are more susceptible to online dating scams. Graff presented his findings on Wednesday at the British Psychological Society Annual Conference in Nottingham.
Graff surveyed 90 participants, each of whom had fallen prey to some kind of online-dating scam. More than being trolled by a fake profile, all participants had paid their scammer somewhere between £50 to £63,000 (or about $70 to $90,000 USD). Researchers also discovered that victims had only used their respective apps for less than four weeks.
Participants answered questions pertaining to self-esteem, emotional intelligence, and their personality, as well as their age and gender. The results showed a large majority tended to display a preoccupied attachment style, meaning they exhibited needy or overly-dependent behaviors.
“Scammers use sophisticated techniques and eventually may begin to know exactly the sort of people to target and how to manipulate them,” Graff concluded, adding that results could help dating apps and even law enforcement better understand the personality types scammers tend to single out.
He told NTRSCTN that no relationship existed between gender, age, and a person’s susceptibility to online dating scams. Scammers appear to be equally opportunity players.
One dating app user, Bobby Wicks, has taken a different approach to distinguishing scams from real matches by turning to the Turing Test. Developed in 1951 by Alan Turing, it attempts to measure artificial intelligence, and humans’ ability to distinguish between people and computers.
“I learned over time not to start the conversation if they looked kind of suspicious,” he explained, “but this one sort of randomly started the conversation with me, so I treated it like a human until it stopped seeming like a human. Then the last part was me kind of joking around.”