Women, under-40 most frequently victimised by ‘romance scams’: Study

Researchers have noted that the South Korean law does not yet have clauses that can help prevent such crime.

Yoon Min-sik

Yoon Min-sik

The Korea Herald



May 30, 2023

SEOUL – An overwhelming majority of those who fall victim to “romance scams,” in which a scammer manipulates the victim by abusing his or her affection and trust, in South Korea are women or under 40, a recent study by scholars at Seoul-based Korea University showed.

An analysis of crime reports filed to the National Police Agency between January and June of last year showed that 71.4 percent of victims in a total 280 crimes categorized as romance scams were female, according to the “Current status of romance scams and countermeasures” study by researchers from the university’s school of cybersecurity.

By age, 52.1 percent of the victims were in their 20s and 35.4 percent were in their 30s.

“Those in their 30s or younger — the generation used to ‘online life’ — are relatively more familiar with socializing online, and are more prone to become the target of romance scams,” the researchers wrote.

Over half of the scams were related to foreign currency exchange — 55.4 percent — followed by payment by proxy and cryptocurrency investigation, respectively at 37.1 percent and 7.5 percent. The scammers would most frequently contact their victims through Instagram, 27.7 percent, followed by dating apps Wippy and Tinder — 14 percent and 7 percent.

The accumulated amount of damage from the romance scams in the first half of 2022 was 3.77 billion won ($2.84 million), which was larger than the amount for the entire year of 2021 at 2.07 billion won, according to data from the National Intelligence Service.

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