Dating apps in the Middle East have seen a rise in monthly users which are constantly increasing since the beginning of Covid.1 Egyptian-based dating app, Hawaya, witnessed an increase in usage of 25% 2 during the lockdowns placed in early 2020. Online dating continues to grow in popularity in the region; however, online dating offenses have also been increasing over the years, and with the coronavirus pandemic, online dating fraud has escalated tremendously.
Millions of people turn to dating apps to meet someone, but instead of finding romance, many are faced with sexualized violence, scams, and identity theft.3 Some have even been victims of physical violence (including murder) when meeting their match offline. Before covid, criminals would fake reasons not to meet their targets in person, which could alert some people that they were being deceived. However, after the pandemic criminals were able to get away with reasons not to meet due to the social distancing guidelines, allowing them to defraud their victims.
Scammers Create Fake Profiles, Lie, and Steal
“What scammers do in a romance scam is they make up reasons why they can’t meet their supposed love in person,” says Kati Daffan, an assistant director in the U.S. Federal Trade Commission’s division of marketing practices.
Romance scammers create fake profiles on dating sites and apps, or contact their targets through popular social media sites like Instagram and Facebook. The scammers strike up a relationship with their targets to build their trust. Then, they make up a story and ask for money. Scammers ask to pay by wiring money, with reload cards, or with gift cards to get cash quickly and remain anonymous, the transactions are almost impossible to reverse.4 The issue is more than people being gullible, it’s about organized sophisticated scammers.
The pandemic inspired new twists to the stories that scammers typically use to defraud their victims like the pandemic restrictions or testing positive for corona. Romance scams went up about 50% from 2019 and reached a record $304 million in losses reported to the FTC in 2020.5
Biometric Face Authentication Essential for Security
More than ever, dating apps need to upscale user security. Biometric face authentication technology can help thwart bots, catfishing, and various other problems in the online dating world. More and more dating apps are adopting face authentication technology to determine the authenticity of users. With user consent, biometric and liveness checks are seamlessly implemented, verifying that the user is a live human while matching their face to their profile photo, without sharing data with third parties.6
Providing a leading face authentication technology which is certified to be spoof-proof against photos and videos can solve many security issues on dating apps. Adopting a certified solution with globally acclaimed quality assurance providers such as iBeta, the only accredited biometrics testing lab by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), is necessary. Pairing face authentication with Liveness Detection, the technology’s ability to determine that it is interfacing with a physically present human being and not an inanimate spoof artifact or injected video/data, will end identity theft and user fraud.
In a Psychology Today study it was estimated that by 2040, 70% of people will have met their significant other online.7 And that study was done before the pandemic so imagine the increase in numbers. With more and more people joining online dating platforms internationally and regionally, it is necessary to adopt a biometric authentication technology that is proven to be accurate and effective to protect users from criminals, financial losses, and heartache.
Learn more about our leading face biometric and liveness detection services here and contact us to explore how we can help protect your dating app users today.