Love online: Honey trap warning

By Amelia Wade

Eric and Jacqui Davies (above) are an online dating success story. Photo / Greg Bowker
Eric and Jacqui Davies (above) are an online dating success story. Photo / Greg Bowker

Eric Davies was a little hesitant to try online dating after his marriage broke up. But his friends convinced him to give it a try, and if he hadn't he might never have met his new wife, Jacqui.

"We both really clicked, we both had the same things in common, pretty much the same life experiences, the same hobbies, the same dislikes and that sort of thing," he said.

"She actually smiled at me first, which was quite nice."

The Wellington couple married on December 4 last year, Mrs Davies' 31st birthday - a date Mr Davies knows he won't forget.

"If I do, I'll forget the birthday and the anniversary and I'll be in some deep schtuck."

Today is Valentine's Day, but the day comes with warnings for people trying to find love online.

Last year, Kiwis lost $67,400 to online dating and romance scams, according to NetSafe figures.

The average loss on dating scams per victim was $3964.

Anti-malware company, Kaspersky Lab, said virtual "honey traps" - seductive encounters designed to coax information out of an agent, or to compromise him in his work - were not uncommon online.

Numerous scammers, marriage fraudsters and other shadowy characters were out to manipulate the natural human desire to find a partner, spokesman Wayne Kirby said.

"Scammers and cyber criminals use holidays and special days, such as Valentine's Day, as a way to target victims.

"They know people will be buying flowers, ordering gifts, and even looking for dates online, so they set traps for people looking for love on Valentine's Day."

The warning comes as an increasing number of people are choosing to search for their other halves online.

Dating site Find Someone hit a 12-year high with the number of its members online on Tuesday.

It has more than 360,000 people registered with about 60,000 actively using the site in the past month. Manager Rick Davies said it was normal to see a spike in interest at this time of year.

"Any time that loneliness is around, so Christmas, New Year or Valentine's Day, when all your mates are going out on their romantic dinners and flowers are turning up to the office, it makes singles start to ponder what they should do about finding someone special."

Mr Davies said online dating was becoming increasingly mainstream and the social stigma of meeting someone through a website was fading.

"I think more and more people ... are realising that finding love online can work really well."

Everything ran smoothly for Eric Davies - he said he liked online dating because it was easier to get to know someone online rather than find out their annoying habits further down the track.

Not that Mrs Davies has any.

HOW TO DATE ONLINE SAFELY

* Never reveal personal data to someone until you meet face-to-face and are certain you can trust them.

* Don't provide your full address when the city will suffice or a last name when an initial works fine.

* Use search engines to make sure potential dates are who they say they are.

* Just like you hold your dates to high standards, do the same for the websites you visit - stick to sites that are reputable. The letters "https" in the address bar shows that the form or page you are on is secure to send private information.

* Free mobile offers like compatibility tests or SMS messages with your dating horoscope may seem like a fun way to pass the time, until you discover the hidden fees. These services can also mask aggressive ad networks.

Source: Norton internet Security

- NZ Herald

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