2015 research, published in the journal Criminology and Criminal Justice, has outlined the psychological harm done by online dating scams.
UK-based researchers Monica T Whitty and Tom Buchanan produced the research, which makes policy recommendations alongside the analysis.
The study describes how unlike regular scam victims, victims of online dating fraud suffer a ‘double hit’ – the direct financial loss, and the emotional trauma of being conned into an online relationship.
For many, the impact of realising their online relationship was a con was far worse than the impact of the theft.
Several participants described the loss of an online relationship as a ‘death’, and all reported being affected negatively by the experience.
The study found a lack of support from family and friends was common in dating fraud scenarios, and many victims had poor coping mechanisms.
Notably, denial was identified as a very poor coping mechanism – victims who refused to accept that their online partner was not real were vulnerable to ‘second wave’ scams.