Weaving through the web of love: winners and losers

Are you lonesome tonight? Are you sick of being single? Online dating easily allows you to click and pick a companion. But beware the scammers.

online dating

Are you lonesome tonight? Maybe you have finally overcome your commitment shyness or are sick of being single and no longer want ‘the chairs in your parlour (to) seem empty and bare’, as Elvis crooned in the 60s.

Well don’t worry about brushing up on old pick-up lines because with the popularity of legitimate online dating sites, making new friends is just a few clicks away … and you don’t even have to leave the ‘parlour’.

But while dating has never been more convenient there are still some serious risks to keep in mind when you enter the matchmaking virtual world. Not everyone is looking for love when they scan the profiles of dating site members. Some scammers have avarice rather than affection in mind and are on the look out for vulnerable, lovelorn types to fleece.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Association (ACCC) last month (May 2017) warned more money was stolen by the online lovers of scam victims than by any other means. A cool $25.5 million was lifted from the wallets of the unsuspecting lovesick compared with $23.6 million forfeited through investment schemes. Each of those amounts is greater than the total of the next seven top scams, the consumer watchdog said in its Scamwatch report.

More troubling is that 45 per cent of the scams reported were made by people over 55 years of age, with the largest single group stung being those over 65, who made up more than a quarter of all complaints.

Government financial guidance unit MoneySmart says there are precautions that should always be taken by those who socialised online to protect their personal and financial details. They include:

  • Do not give out any personal, banking or credit card information to anyone who makes contact with you
  • Check your bank and credit card statements every month
  • Be careful what you post online and try to limit what you share
  • Make sure your privacy settings are up to date on your social media accounts
  • Beware if you receive friend requests from people you don't know, as they may be trying to gain access to your information.

While all this suggests online romance is risky rather than risqué, the reality is that millions of Australians are hooked, propelling the subscription-based profits of the two largest sites – RSVP.com.au, owned by publisher Fairfax Media and Ten Network, and eHarmony.com.au – into eight-digit figures, a new analysis by IBISWorld found.

Each of these sites has special sections for seniors. RSVP.com.au has more than 600 people over 65 listed.

Members pay a subscription to join and fill out a questionnaire about themselves. The sites then use algorithms to match make members based on their stated interests.

There is also a growing list of lesser-known sites specifically for seniors seeking out a soulmate.

If the time is right for you to go looking for love but you don’t know where to begin, have a peep at a review by consumer magazine Choice, which lined up a few of the bigger online dating sites and shared its first impressions. Those fantasising about a ‘foreign affair’ can cast their nets wider at datingsitesreview.com.

However, before you sign up to a hefty subscription with a site, research the do’s and don’ts, especially in relation to scripting your online profile, and try to read feedback or comments on sites that indicate if members are getting satisfaction or being ripped off.


    To make a comment, please register or login
    13th Jun 2017
    I moved to be nearer my son, leaving many lovely friends behind. Being lonely I thought to have a look at this online dating business. I met a couple of people who made me feel very uncomfortable about their intentions, but in the end I found a wonderful friend and companion, and we have had many great adventures together.

    I found a site called OASIS which was free ( I hope it still is) and allows you to be quite specific about details such as how far you are prepared to travel to meet someone. This was very helpful since, as we grow older, we don't want to be travelling for hours to meet someone on a regular basis.

    From my experience, it seems best to take the bull by the horns and arrange to meet for a coffee very early on - there is nothing like actually meeting someone face to face. Writing and telephone calls can be very satisfactory, but the spark has to be there and the only way to find out is to meet.

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