iovation Shares Data on Online Dating Scams and Mobile Usage Ahead of Valentine’s Day

Firm names top types of dating fraud leading to lonely hearts and catfish scams

February 12, 2016

4 Min Read


PORTLAND, Ore – Feb.11, 2015 – iovation, the provider of device intelligence for authentication and fraud prevention, today released the who, what and when of online dating fraud. The company determined online dating transactions¾everything from account profile creation, login and the exchange of information between daters¾had a higher chance of being fraudulent compared to other online industries. The company came to its findings based on its analysis of the hundreds of millions of online dating transactions and billions of total online transactions that it screens for fraudulent indicators every year.  

“It’s well documented that half of all couples will meet online in the not too distant future,” said iovation’s Vice President of Operations and Co-Founder, Molly O’Hearn. “Cybercriminals  typically try to capitalize on high-growth markets with targeted schemes and we are definitely seeing that in online dating.”

Mobile Usage in Online Dating

The convenience of being able to use a mobile device for online dating activities makes it highly attractive to daters worldwide. Looking at iovation’s data, mobile usage increased 12 percent over last year, growing from 57 percent in Q1 2015 to 64 percent in Q1 2016. iPhone use held steady at 24 percent for both years while Android use grew from 62 to 65 percent.

How Much Dating Fraud Occurs

In 2015, 1.39 percent of all transactions on online dating sites were fraudulent, slightly down from the 1.58 percent iovation saw in 2014. By comparison, the rate of fraud across all industries was lower than in dating, at 1.06 percent in 2015 and 1.27 percent in 2014. However, the rate of fraud in the gaming and retail industries last year was higher than online dating at 3.17 percent and 2.6 percent respectively.

Valentine’s Day Fraud

In February 2015, 1.23 percent of all online dating transactions were fraudulent. On February 14, 2015—Valentine’s Day—1.26 percent of all transactions were fraudulent on online dating sites. These figures are both lower than overall averages for online dating fraud in 2015, meaning that fraudulent transactions actually decreased somewhat leading into Valentine’s Day before picking up again.

Top Types of Dating Fraud

The top five types of fraud that occurred on online dating sites in 2015 were:

1.     Spam—Person is caught sending unsolicited bulk messages via emails, postings, and instant messages to promote other products, websites or companies

2.     Identity mining—Scammer makes any attempt to illegitimately acquire personal information from other users through means of phishing, keystroke logging, creating fake business websites and other methods

3.     Scams/solicitations—User takes advantage of the community to promote nonexistent services and products, or to solicit services from legitimate members

4.     Profile misrepresentation—Fraudster posts inaccurate identity information in a profile and/or uses bogus profile photos

5.     Credit card fraud—Cybercriminal uses a fake or stolen credit card to create multiple or premium accounts to scam users

“Scammers are clearly leveraging online dating sites as a new targeted marketing channel to serve up unsolicited offers,” said O’Hearn. “At the same time, there are still plenty of ‘catfish’—people who pretend to be someone they're not to pursue deceptive online romances.”

Many times, identity mining dating sites is the first step in a broader fraud ring value chain. They collect validated identities that they can then use to open accounts at other businesses like credit issuers. Those newly minted cards can then be used to purchase a wide variety of online goods and services.

Where Dating Fraud Originates

While online dating scams take place worldwide, the highest percentage of fraudulent transactions in 2015 originated from these countries:

1.     United States —18 percent

2.     Ghana—11 percent

3.     Nigeria —10 percent

4.     France —8 percent

5.     Vietnam —7 percent

When Fraud Occurs

According to iovation, the highest percentage of fraud attempts on online dating sites in 2015 occurred between 9am to 12pm UTC. This is 1am to 4am PST and 4am to 7am EST.

About iovation

iovation protects online businesses and their end users against fraud and abuse, and identifies trustworthy customers through a combination of advanced device identification, shared device reputation, device-based authentication and real-time risk evaluation. More than 3,500 fraud managers representing global retail, financial services, insurance, social network, gaming and other companies leverage iovation’s database of billions of Internet devices and the relationships between them to determine the level of risk associated with online transactions. The company’s device reputation database is the world’s largest, used to protect 15 million transactions and stop an average of 250,000 fraudulent activities every day. The world's foremost fraud experts share intelligence, cybercrime tips and online fraud prevention techniques in iovation's Fraud Force Community, an exclusive virtual crime-fighting network. For more information, visit

Keep up with the latest cybersecurity threats, newly discovered vulnerabilities, data breach information, and emerging trends. Delivered daily or weekly right to your email inbox.

You May Also Like

More Insights