Online Romance in the 21st Century: Deceptive Online Dating, Catfishing, Romance Scams, and “Mail Order” Marriages

Online Romance in the 21st Century: Deceptive Online Dating, Catfishing, Romance Scams, and “Mail Order” Marriages

Renee D. Lamphere (University of North Carolina at Pembroke, USA) and Kweilin T. Lucas (University of North Carolina at Greensboro, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-8535-0.ch025

Abstract

The rapid advancement of technology has changed the dating world for millions of people. While dating scams are not a new phenomenon to the online dating community, a new form of scam known as “catfishing” is also taking place. Catfishing is the verb used to describe the actions of a “catfish,” a person who creates falsified online profiles on social networking sites with the purpose of fraudulently seducing someone else. In addition to talking about online dating scams and catfishing, this chapter will also examine “mail order” marriages and the potential impact of this practice.
Chapter Preview
Top

Introduction

The rapid development of Internet-based technologies has changed many aspects of our lives. One area of human communication that has been effected by technological advances is the opportunity for online romantic endeavors. The Internet has now made it possible for a person to date without ever leaving their home. The use of Internet dating sites, social networking sites, and dating applications has enabled humans to date 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year (Rege, 2009). It is estimated that one in four dating relationship begin online, making the Internet the second most common way that dating couples meet (Cocalis, 2016).

With the increase in popularity of online dating in the past twenty years has come a growth in both the numbers and revenues of online dating websites (Close & Zinkhan, 2004). There are over 1,400 dating site in North America alone (Rege, 2009), which are estimated to generate $2 to $4 billion in revenue annually (Hamm, 2014; Harwell, 2015; Rogers, 2013). Popular sites such as Match.com, eHarmony.com, Chemistry.com, OurTime.com, and OKCupid.com make it easy for individuals to meet potential online matches (Harwell, 2015; Rege, 2009). Online dating sites provide an avenue to meet people online with the potential to move offline into face-to-face relationships (Barraket & Henry-Waring, 2008). In addition to traditional websites, there are also a number of popular online dating applications. Popular apps such as Tinder, Coffee Meet Bagel, and Zoosk that users download on their phone make it easy to browse for potential mates (Windelman, 2018). Online dating is not limited to dating sites and apps only; social networking sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter have generated a new method of connecting with others who may share similar interests (Wortham, 2014). It is through this new method of social networking that a new type of dating scam has emerged known as “catfishing”. Catfishing is the verb used to describe the actions of a “catfish”, a person who creates falsified online profiles on social networking sites with the purpose of fraudulently seducing someone (Harris, 2013).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Traditional Online Romance/Dating Scam: A confidence trick involving feigning romantic intentions toward a victim who they meet online, gaining the victim’s affection, and then using that goodwill to commit fraud, usually monetary in nature.

Online Dating Website: A website that enables people to find and introduce themselves to new personal connections over the internet, usually with the goal of developing personal, romantic, or sexual relationships.

Online Dating Application: An online dating service presented through a mobile phone application, often taking advantage of a smartphone’s GPS location capabilities, always-on-hand presence, and easy access to digital photo galleries.

Social Networking Site: An online platform that allows users to create a public profile and interact with users on their website.

Grooming Phase: The phase in an online dating scam where the victim will often begin to self-disclose intimate details about themselves to the scammer, building the sense of trust felt in a relationship. This is when the scammer will begin with request for small amounts of money or gifts in an attempt to play on the victim’s trust.

Catfishing: The verb used to describe the actions of a “catfish,” a person who creates falsified online profiles on social networking sites with the purpose of fraudulently seducing someone else.

Fake Marriage: A marriage of convenience entered into purely for the purpose of gaining a benefit or other advantage arising from that status.

Mail-Order Bride: A woman who lists herself in catalogs and is selected by a man for marriage. This is typically done by a woman who wants to marry someone from another country, usually a financially developed country.

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book:
Reset