Researchers have developed an Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based system to restrict fake profiles designed to con people on dating apps and websites.
The computing algorithms have been designed specifically to understand what fake dating profiles look like and then to apply this knowledge to scan profiles submitted to online dating services.
The algorithms, part of a wide-ranging research, have the capability to 'think' like humans to pinpoint fake profiles, said the researchers, including Tom Sorell, Professor at the University of Warwick in the UK.
"Using AI techniques to help reveal suspicious activity could be a game-changer that makes detection and prevention quicker, easier and more effective, ensuring that people can use dating sites with much more confidence in future," said Sorell in a statement released on February 12 by Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), a part of UK Research and Innovation, a non-departmental public body funded by a grant-in-aid from the UK government.
When tested, the research team found that the algorithms produced a very low false-positive rate (the number of genuine profiles mistakenly flagged up as fake) of around 1 per cent.
The new algorithms automatically look out for suspicious signs inadvertently included by fraudsters in the demographic information, the images and the self-descriptions that make up profiles, and reach an overall conclusion about the probability of each individual profile being fake.
According to the researchers, the aim is now to further enhance the technique and enable it to start being taken up by dating services within the next couple of years, helping them to prevent profiles being posted by scammers.
With Valentine's Day approaching, the news that these AI capabilities have the potential to help thwart so-called 'rom-con' scams will be very welcome to the millions of people who use online dating services in the UK and worldwide, the researchers said.
In these scams, fraudsters target users of dating websites and apps, 'groom' them and then ask for gifts of money or loans which will never be returned, they noted.