Online Dating

Online Dating Fraud

Online Dating Fraud 

The first week in January is the busiest time of the year for online dating.  Millions of people hit dating websites hoping to find love after spending another Christmas alone.  However, lurking among the sea of profiles online are sophisticated gangs who prey on innocent people merely trying to find a life partner.  These gangs are criminals and use dating sites to groom their victims.  They use age old techniques which play mind games making their victims feel guilty if he/she doubts them or do not do as they ask.  They are online dating fraudsters, aka romance fraudsters.  They have devastated their victims’ lives, left them penniless and destroyed the futures which they worked hard to provide for.

Online Dating Fraud Figures

Figures from the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) confirm that online dating fraud cost a heart-breaking £27m between 2014 and 2015.  These also show that two out of three romance frauds started on dating sites.  Over 70% or people who have used dating sites say that people misrepresented themselves on their profiles.  It is suspected that the number of crimes could in fact be much higher with victims far too embarrassed and ashamed to report the crimes to the police.

The Fraudsters Modus Operandi

Fraudsters use different aliases and adopt English names such as Richard or Christian.  Conversely they are usually Nigerian and operate within a ring of fraudsters.  Their photos  are stolen images from other dating profiles or Facebook members who have no idea their photographs are even being used.  Often they will want to communicate with you by text, email or phone very quickly.  Words such as “my love, dear” are used frequently and they say they love you very soon, too soon in fact when they’ve never met you.  They say they are in the military but this is now widely known as a Modus Operandi (MO) so they may use a different occupation.  They may even say they are widowed which is a hook especially if their victim is also widowed.

Victims become isolated, waiting for their romance fraudster’s message and it’s easy to get taken in.  They may even tell you not to tell friends or family about them in the same way a paedophile does when grooming their victim.  Beware if they ask you to pose for a sexually explicit photograph as they are likely to use this to blackmail you if you don’t do what they ask and provide them with cash.

And then comes the part where they have a large inheritance or an amount of money which needs releasing.  But they need your help to release it so you can have a life together and live happily ever after with them.  Victims sucked in by these scammers have handed over thousands of pounds and borrowed from friends and family as well as handing over their own nest egg for their future.

It’s not just women who are targeted

A number of victims are middle aged women however, men get taken in too as well as younger victims in their 40s.  A couple of my male members in their early 40s almost fell victim to the charms of attractive women who showed an interest in them.  These women then needed money for an ill relative.

One of my female members was also targeted by a male who said he lived in Hampshire but thankfully she smelt a rat before it was too late and told him not to contact her again.  The police came knocking on her door a few weeks later after the forensic examination of his phone upon arrest led them to her.  Thinking she may be another victim like the women who had handed over £170k of her life savings to him.  She had a lucky escape.

Get Safe Online

If you are in contact with someone you suspect may not be who they say they are then report it immediately to the dating website and Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.  Or use their Online Reporting Tool.

Get Safe Online has important advice when using online dating sites. Never send anyone you don’t know any money or sexually explicit images of yourself.  Remember we all have instincts and if something doesn’t feel right then it usually isn’t.

Stay safe if you intend to use online dating sites to find love this year.  Alternatively you could invest in our matchmaking service which has helped hundreds of members find someone to share their lives with.

Author: Tara McDonnell, founder and owner of South Downs Introductions.  Tara is a trained certified matchmaker from the Matchmaker Academy.  She is also a proud award winner at the UK Dating Awards 2015.


Single at Christmas

Single at Christmas

Single at Christmas


One of the loneliest times of the year can be when you’re single at Christmas.  I spent most of my 30s single and every Christmas I got really fed up.  This feeling was compounded by the fact that it’s my birthday on Christmas Eve.  Every year I would wake up and feel really down because there was no special man in my life to wish me happy birthday.

Every January I vowed I would not be alone the following year.  I would set about creating my brand new profile for online dating.  I would feel really enthusiastic and positive about finding someone.  However, after a few weeks I only felt disheartened.  I hated the time spent emailing back and forth when I wanted to cut to the chase and meet the person.  If I did meet someone, more often than not they had lied about something such as their height, weight, age and even marital status.  Why do people do that?

We get a vast number of enquiries for our matchmaking memberships from people in between Christmas and the New Year.  January goes crazy with people joining.  Some people tell me they had a miserable Christmas and say they do not want to spend the following year single.  I do empathise with anyone who is single at Christmas and so I have put together some ideas to help get you through this period.

Make plans to see family and friends

Although you might not have a special someone this year, you are likely to have loved ones and friends to spend time with.  You will always have the inquisitive relative that asks about your love life or lack of it.  Just steer the conversation away from that and tell them about all the great things you have done this year and what you have planned for next year.  Your relatives care about you that’s probably the reason they ask about your love life.  Another wine will always help get you through those questions.

Volunteer and do some charity work

A number of my clients have worked Christmas Day for Crisis, the homeless charity who happen to be seeking volunteers this Christmas too.  You can find Crisis’ website here.  Clients tell me they felt humbled and got great satisfaction from helping others less fortunate.  They forgot about their own situation which is nothing compared to being homeless.  I volunteered for Age Concern over the Christmas period.  It’s sad how many elderly people spend Christmas alone every year.

The bonus to volunteering is you won’t be alone and in fact may even meet other likeminded people who are also single.  You never know where this may lead to.  So push yourself out of your comfort zone and give to someone else this year and volunteer.

Treat yourself

If you can afford to splash out and indulge yourself with a spa break then we recommend Grayshott Spa in Hindhead, Surrey.  It will also help you detox and kick-start any weight loss plan for the new Year.  Equally the Brighton Metropole Spa always has a good offer on where you can indulge yourself for a day away from all the Christmas shopping and stress.  Why not go with a friend or treat your mum.

New Year’s Resolutions – this year I will find love

Finding a life partner is probably high on the list if you make New Year’s resolutions.  Even if you don’t it’s still probably something you really want in your life.  It’s not impossible to meet a great life partner but you cannot sit back and wait for him or her to knock on your front door one evening, that’s just not going to happen.  And to all those people who tell you he or she will come along when you stop looking I say to them, rubbish!  If you were seeking your dream job, would you leave it to chance?  I bet you would try every avenue and make a real effort with your CV and applications.  So why would you leave finding your dream partner to chance?

I believe there is someone out there for all of us it’s just a case of finding them and that’s where I come in as a matchmaker with a proven track record in the industry.

Matchmaking Full Membership

Like our members, you may have tried and tested online dating and feel jaded and disillusioned after years of trying.  So you could try our pro-active Full Membership where we guarantee you a number of great people to meet who will match you on values and qualities sought in a partner.  I have 65% success rate on finding clients long-term partners and usually achieve this for them within the first month or two of their membership.  Sometimes it’s even on their first match.

We cannot guarantee true love, no matchmaker can.  Love can only come from meeting the recommended matches so you need to be open-minded and trust me as I do this every day.  What’s more I am very good at it and have introduced many happy couples who now share a life together. You can read our testimonials here.

Our pro-active service costs a little over £100 a month, includes a professional photo for your profile, a dating coach and your guaranteed matches.  You need to add up what you’ve spent on online dating over the years, I bet it is hundreds, I know mine added up to that.  Believe me if you’ve paid nothing and used free sites well, you get what you pay for.  Our members go on real dates with real people and find real love.

Online Dating Assistance

If you decide to use online dating then you need to spend a good two hours every evening making a conscious effort to search.  Be pro-active in making contact with others online.  You ought to meet the person as soon as possible to see if there is any connection.  It’s not possible to tell from emailing back and forth, or speaking on the telephone whether you have any connection with someone.  You simply have to meet, it’s the only way.

If you are planning to meet a stranger online then ensure you stick to the online dating safety guidelines. This goes for guys too as they can often be duped.  Please report anyone suspicious to the website and the police. Do not hesitate to do both as if something feels suspicious then it most likely is suspicious. Read the Online dating safety guidelines here.

We offer packages to assist people that want to use online dating.  For example, we can draft your profile and arrange a professional photo-shoot for you with our award-winning dating photographer. See here for our Online Dating Assistance packages.


So if you are single at Christmas fear not because there are lots of others just like you out there trying to find love too.  You are not alone and maybe next year you may have found your perfect partner.

Author: Tara McDonnell, founder and owner of South Downs Introductions.  Tara is a trained certified matchmaker from the Matchmaker Academy.  She is also a proud award winner at the UK Dating Awards 2015.