Bernas estimated the bureau hears about only 10 percent of the online dating scam cases.“Most consumers don’t come forward to complain because they are embarrassed or devastated,” he said.This means that the ads could reach Facebook users that would not be found on traditional dating sites, such as celebrities, James claims."If you have the same interests as Kim Kardashian or a Premier League footballer, you could end up on their page," he says.Lovebook offers three packages, which promise different levels of Facebook reach.With First Date, customers will receive a minimum of five "leads", in the form of Likes or direct messages."But if you promote it from your own Facebook page, your ads are likely to appear on friends' and family's pages," says James.
The average campaign generates at least 15 or 20 leads at the moment." It is impossible to protect an idea like Lovebook: users could take out paid ads on Facebook themselves and cut out the middle man.
The FBI’s Internet Fraud Complaint Center and the Federal Trade Commission estimate that so-called romance fraud causes the greatest dollar loss of any fraud or scam that affects individuals, with the exception of investment fraud.
Both agencies estimate that last year alone, 32,279 people were victims of online romance scams, losing 1.4 million.
James, who has just graduated from university, had the idea for the business when a friend complained that he couldn't meet women through existing dating apps and online services.
"Marco couldn't work out why people weren't responding so we decided to help him out," he explains.