Valentine's Day is ripe for scammers to cash in on people searching online for that special someone.

While many people do find love online, victims of fake scams and false identities are often left with financial damage and emotional distress, says Melissa Dempsey, senior director of online security group Norton by Symantec.

A Norton survey of 504 New Zealanders who had used online dating, found nearly 70 per cent have had a negative experience.

Despite the risks, online daters are taking their chances with finding Mr or Ms Right, with 31 per cent of respondents finding a partner online. Half of respondents chose to ignore negative experiences.


Interestingly, 53 per cent of online daters found it hard to identify scammers and 56 per cent would like website and app owners to take more responsibility for protecting them from the dangers.

"Online dating can be a fantastic experience for those seeking love, but these large online communities also make them an attractive target for scammers," Dempsey said.

"With the popularity of online dating services on the rise in New Zealand, Valentine's Day has become more appealing for scammers looking to cash in on people searching for that special someone."

The survey found only 13 per cent of New Zealanders had experienced catfishing, or being tricked into a romantic online relationship with someone who has a fake identity online.

It also found that 55 per cent of online daters spent one or more hours on dating sites each day and 43 per cent lied by exaggerating or misrepresentation in their profiles, often touching up a photo or changing information to make themselves more appealing.

Weight (35 per cent) is the information New Zealanders are most likely to stretch the truth about, followed by job (34 per cent) and photo (33 per cent). Kiwis are least likely to lie about their age (23 per cent).

More than one in five dates (21 per cent) use online dating platforms to send potentially compromising photographs or videos to strangers, putting them at risk of having them released publicly without their consent.

The survey, by Norton by Symantec, was carried out in October last year.

Tips for online dating

Create a username and password that you have not used on any other accounts

Set up a separate free email account to use solely with your dating account

Be sure to choose a reputable, well-known service

Join a paid site where it is likely there will be more legitimate daters and less scammers