Individuals with heightened sensitivity and less “emotional intelligence” are more vulnerable to online dating scams, a new study has revealed.
More than 90 victims of dating scams recently took part in a series of questionnaires about their personality and how they relate to other people, as well as their self-esteem and emotional intelligence.
The results of the study found that those involved had used dating sites for less than four weeks, and had lost amounts ranging from £50 to £63,000 during that time.
Additionally, researchers identified that although the victims had a tendency to be “efficient, organised and disciplined”, they were also more likely to show their emotions.
In addition to this, many dating scam victims also had a preoccupied attachment style, causing them to seek high levels of intimacy, approval and responsiveness from the person to whom they were attached – all of which are qualities that dating scammers value when searching for their victims.
Speaking about the results, lead author Dr Martin Graff from the University of South Wales said: “Perpetrators of dating scams simply set up false profiles on dating websites with the sole purpose of extracting money from their victims.
“The scammer first grooms a victim by expressing love for them before outlining their desperate circumstances.
“They then attempt to request money from the victim. Our study focused on why some individuals are more likely to become the victims of these scams than others.”
He added: “With the rise in the number of people using online dating, more and more people are likely to fall victim.
“Scammers use sophisticated techniques and eventually may begin to know exactly the sort of people to target and how to manipulate them.
“These findings will be beneficial to dating sites and law enforcement agencies in attempting to protect the vulnerable from being scammed.
“Further research should include interviews with a larger sample of people who have been the dating scam victims.”
The findings were presented at the British Psychological Society’s Annual Conference in Nottingham earlier this week.
Learn more about the study here.