ODA Launch Date Safe Campaign, Following Conviction of UK-based Scammers

Online Dating Association

The Online Dating Association has launched a Date Safe campaign for consumers and dating sites, after the recent conviction of scammers in the UK.

The campaign is made up of best practice and standards for the online dating industry, along with guidance for consumers, to help them stay safe.

Two dating scammers were convicted last month at Winchester Crown Court for defrauding women on Match.com out of £220,000, using fake millionaire profiles.

On Friday, the gang were sentenced, receiving 14 years between them.

Speaking about the recent conviction and sentencing of these scammers, the CEO of the ODA, George Kidd, said: “There is no place in online dating for those who are there to con or harm others. We are committed to keeping online dating safe. We are delighted to see the courts step-up with prosecutions and convictions as in Winchester.

“But the industry cannot be complacent. We have set new standards. We are exploring new technologies and will be working together more closely with the police and others to achieve this goal. The public too have a role to play — staying smart to protect themselves and telling if things do go wrong.”

The ODA are working on building links between the industry and the police, and other crime prevention bodies.

This follows the launch of a crackdown on online dating scammers by London’s Metropolitan Police.

Announced on October 1st, the campaign is part of a larger war on cyber crime and fraud, codenamed Falcon.

Current member of the Online Dating Association include eHarmony, Match.com, Guardian Soulmates, Christian Connection, Oasis and Lovestruck.

The industry actions outlined by the ODA and their members are:

  • The ODA was set up based on a Code of Practice. ODA members have a responsibility to check profiles, to use specialised software and skilled staff to monitor activities, to bar scammers and to give users advice, guidance and help if they are approached.
  • We held a scammer workshop for the industry in 2014 and now have a forum for members to share alerts and tips.
  • Our members have set up chat rooms for users that are monitored and designed to stop scammers using private emails to narrow-in on targets.
  • We have approached the National Crime Investigation Bureau and the Met Police cyber fraud teams with offers of help and new information sharing arrangements.
  • We want courts to impose conditions banning anyone convicted of crimes against online daters from such services for life.
  • We plan cross-industry data-sharing agreement to stop problem users flitting from one service to another undetected. We will continue to test how services and users can do more to verify the identity of those they meet online, possibly using web-cams and smartphones.

The regulatory body also want singles to know that advice on dating scammers is available from the ODA, the police and public service bodies like Get Safe Online and Action Fraud.

The ODA have outlined the following instructions for consumers:

  1. Use common sense online: use your head as well as your heart
  2. Take time and care: don’t do things or share things online you wouldn’t in person
  3. Never ever ever respond to a request for money, however desperate or persuasive it seems
  4. Report any worrying contacts: your safety and that of others matters more than feeling silly

Visit the ODA here.