Online Dating Scams and Identity Theft Research Paper

  • Length: 23 pages
  • Sources: 23
  • Subject: Criminal Justice - Intelligence
  • Type: Research Paper
  • Paper: #42394908

Excerpt from Research Paper :

Online Dating Scams and Its Role in Identity Theft


The increased use of the Internet in modern communications has contributed to the emergence of cyberspace, which has become an alternative medium for developing and experiencing new relationships. The cyberspace is currently used for various purposes including communication and for developing creative romantic endeavors with less spatio-temporal restrictions. While online love platforms have proliferated and blossomed in the past few decades, they have become avenues for cyber crime. This paper examines how online dating platforms have developed to become cyber crime sites through which identity fraud is carried out. The analysis begins with an overview of whether online dating is a scam and the role of online dating scams in identity theft. This evaluation is based on the use of social control theory as the theoretical framework that guides the research. The researcher conducts document analysis based on several keywords or phrases including online dating, romance scams, and the link between online dating scams and identity theft. The study found that there is a positive relationship between online dating scams and identity theft since scammers use persuasive techniques to carry out their activities and conduct attacks on Web servers to acquire personal identity information.

Table of Contents



2.1 The Proliferation of Online Dating

2.2 Is Online Dating a Scam?

2.3 Online Identity Fraud and Scams

2.4 What is the Role of Online Dating Scams in Identity Theft?


3.1 The Fraud Triangle Theory

3.2 Other Theories


4.1 Objectives of the Study

4.2 Research Design

4.3 Significance and Contribution of the Study


5.1 The Rise of Online Dating and Identity Fraud

5.2 Online Dating Scams

5.3 Link between Online Dating Scams and Identity Theft


6.1 Summary of Findings

6.2 Limitations of the Study

6.3 Directions for Future Research



Technological advancements in the past few decades have revolutionized modern communications, especially through the Internet. The increased use of the Internet for modern communications has contributed to the emergence of cyberspace, which is utilized for different purposes including developing new and creative love adventures. People across the globe are increasingly using the cyberspace to find love and engage in romantic endeavors because of the numerous benefits of the Internet in this process included limited geographical boundaries. Some of the benefits of using the Internet to find love including anonymity feature, convenience since one does not have to leave their homes or workplaces, new ways of interaction, and ability to find matches quickly. While some people have experienced success in their quest to find love online, others have not had very good experiences or success. However, the success of online dating sites has been a frequent target of cyber crime, particularly identity theft. Online dating scams have emerged and been increasingly used as avenues or platforms for identity theft. As online dating sites continue to increase, online dating scams also continue to increase and generate numerous security risks and threats to those looking for love online. Therefore, examining whether online dating is a scam and how its role in identity theft is an issue of concern that needs to be studied.


2.1 The Proliferation of Online Dating

The issue of the role of online dating scams in identity theft has received increased scrutiny given the increase in the number of individuals using the Internet to look for love. According to Butler (2016), there are millions of Americans (i.e. approximately 11% of American adults) who visit online dating platforms with the hope of finding love or a soul mate. Woods (2014) contended that online dating has developed to become a billion-dollar sector to an extent that its regarded as one of the most famous ways for single individuals to find love or their soul mates in developed countries, particularly in Europe and the United States. Singh & Jackson (2015) state that rapid technological advancements have significantly transformed and shifted how people find love through providing a new landscape for people to look for and find love. In a 2015 report, Pew Research Center found that 5% of all American adults in long-term committed relationships and marriages met on the Internet (Intersections Inc., 2015). As more millenials continue to utilize the Internet to look for love, this number is expected to increase significantly because of the growth of online dating sites as avenues for finding long-term relationships. In an earlier study, Rege (2009) argued that rapid technological advancements and prevalence of the Internet has contributed to the emergence of online dating sites, which provide alternative avenues for individuals seeking for romantic endeavors.

Rege (2009) states that there are four major reasons for the growth of online dating sites following rapid technological advancements and the prevalence of the Internet. First, online dating is attractive to customers because of the convenience of the Internet. In this regard, people do not have to leave the comfort of their homes or workplaces to look for and find love since these platforms allow people to date remotely. Secondly, these sites are attractive to individuals because of their anonymity feature, which implies that people can engage in their pursuit for romantic endeavors privately and without supervision or fear of stigmatization. Third, online dating sites have become popular in recent years because they enable customers to experience new measures of interaction like flirtatious emoticons. Finally, the growth in the popularity of these sites is attributable to the fact that they enable those seeking for romantic endeavors to find their matches rapidly.

2.2 Is Online Dating a Scam?

While online dating sites have grown in popularity as alternative avenues for finding love, these platforms have been linked with an increase in crime. According to FindLaw (n.d.), the increased popularity of online dating has contributed to increased cases of catfishing, which is the creation of a fictitious online identity and using it to seek out online relationships. Based on recent estimates, victims of catfishing are in the thousands while the number is underrepresented because many victims do not report their experiences. Zane (2016) argues that online dating sites and social networking websites are rich petri dishes for wicked individuals. Hamsi et al. (2014) concurs by arguing that increased cybercrime incidents relating to the growth in the popularity of online dating sites has become an issue of concern to law enforcement authorities and agencies.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has warned millions of individuals who visit online dating sites that criminals are also using these sites to carry out a variety of crimes (Butler, 2016). While these criminals claim to be Americans traveling or working abroad, the create a variety of scams in the online dating world to carry out crimes against unsuspecting users. In an early study, Intersections Inc. (2015) warned users of online dating sites to be careful about the information they post on these sites. This is largely because criminals pose as strangers and utilize the online dating sites to obtain personal information of other users and utilize it for criminal purposes. According to Woods (2014), while the Internet help those seeking for romantic endeavors to find their matches, online dating sites are also avenues used by identity thieves to steal personal information and money.

2.3 Online Identity Fraud and Scams

Identity fraud and scams have received considerable attention in existing literature because of the proliferation of the Internet and its use by criminals to carry out their illegitimate activities. Smith (2010) defines online identity fraud as the use of deceitful or dishonest measures on the Internet to obtain and utilize another individual's personal information to conduct a crime. Additionally, identity fraud involves the use of an individual's personal information without his/her permission or knowledge. Smith (2010) further argues that online identity fraud is a major issue for Internet users because of the provision of personal information to carry out some activities on the Internet. In this regard, the Internet acts a source of personal information to criminals either life history information (such as name, age and address) and financial information (like credit/debit card numbers, bank accounts and passwords).

Rege (2009) provides a different definition of identity fraud and identity theft by arguing that there is a difference between these two concepts. He defines identity fraud as impersonation of another individual for a specific reason then reverting to own identity. On the contrary, identity theft is complete abandonment of one's identity in favor of another, unique identity. Rege (2009) and Smith (2010) concur that that identity fraud and identity theft have become common on the Internet. Even though these offenses take place in the physical world, their proliferation on the Internet is attributable to the advantages provided by the Internet as compared to the physical world. The nature of the operation of the Internet enables criminals to shield their real identities and assume new identities (aliases) in a relatively easy and convenient manner through which…

Sources Used in Document:


Atlantic Publishing Company. (2008). How Can My Identity Be Stolen Online? In The online identity theft prevention kit: stop scammers, hackers, and identity thieves from ruining your life (chap. 3, pp.79-156). Ocala, FL: Atlantic Publishing Group Inc.

Braun, V. & Clarke, V. (2006). Using Thematic Analysis in Psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3(2), 77-101.

Butler, D. (2016, February 11). FBI Warns of Online Dating Scams. Retrieved from Federal Bureau of Investigation -- U.S. Department of Justice website:

Copes, H., Kerley, K.R., Huff, R. & Kane, J. (2010). Differentiating Identity Theft: An Exploratory Study of Victims Using a National Victimization Survey. Journal of Criminal Justice, 38, 1045-1052.

Cite This Research Paper:

"Online Dating Scams And Identity Theft" (2017, April 23) Retrieved April 1, 2020, from

"Online Dating Scams And Identity Theft" 23 April 2017. Web.1 April. 2020. <>

"Online Dating Scams And Identity Theft", 23 April 2017, Accessed.1 April. 2020,