A professional matchmaker is urging Canadians to be aware of the impact new technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) are having on the rising incidence of online dating fraud.
“There’s lots of AI options now for people to make fake profiles,” Krystal Walter told Global News.
Walter, who runs Krystal Walter Matchmaking in Calgary, Vancouver and Toronto, pointed out profiles can look and sound so realistic that they can easily fool people into believing they’re legitimate.
Fraudsters start with picking from a long list of computer-generated photos of the “perfect” man or woman, and then add on “desirable” qualifications and build a profile from there. Walter said everything from eye and hair colour to ethnicity can be included, even “conversation tone.”
She said AI programs can also take some of the usual “red flags” — such as spelling mistakes and bad grammar — out of the text, making them harder to detect as fakes. But again, she said, that’s exactly what they are.
“These are all computer generated. None of these are real people.”
Romance scams were the second-most costly recorded scams in Canada in 2022.
According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre more than 1,400 cases were reported last year. The statistics also show more than 1,000 people were victimized for a total loss from romance scams ringing in at upwards of $59 million.
The centre, which collects information on fraud and identity theft, currently has an alert on its site specifically warning about romance scams. It warns people to protect themselves and always avoid sending money or personal information to anyone you haven’t met in person.
Walter has a lot of the same advice which she follows in her own business.
She does the legwork for her clients, vetting both them and any potential suitor including checking their identification, even doing Zoom calls to make sure the person is legitimate.
Her suggestion for anyone doing any kind of online dating on their own: be extra careful and vigilant.
“It’s a great tool to meet somebody, but the best option is to meet them off the app. As fast as you can.”