Yoti is encouraging people to use its digital identity app to protect themselves while online dating. The company is specifically seeking to address romance fraud, which increased in 2020 as people searched for ways to connect with one another in the midst of pandemic lockdowns.
According to Yoti, romance fraud is comparable to catfishing, insofar as it is a form of social engineering that occurs when someone presents themselves as a potential (but fake) romantic partner when engaging with their victim. In the UK, that rises to the level of fraud as soon as the perpetrator leverages the relationship and asks the victim to send money under false pretences. Romance fraud carries an estimated price tag of £18.5 million since it entered the British legal code with the Fraud Act of 2006.
The problem, according to Yoti, is that many of the most popular dating sites and social media apps do not conduct rigorous identity checks. That means that it is relatively easy to open a fake account for the purposes of committing fraud.
The Yoti app, on the other hand, verifies each user’s identity documents when they register for an account. It also includes a peer-to-peer utility that allows people to share select personal information with another Yoti user. That means that people can use the app to verify personal details about someone they are communicating with online, even if Yoti itself is not technically a dating app.
To perform a peer-to-peer check, users must first tap Share. They must then select the details they want to disclose, and their preferred method of exchange (for example, via text or email). The intended recipient must then agree to accept the information, and the original user will receive the same details from the other party in return.
The arrangement preserves user privacy, since both parties must give their consent in order for the exchange to take place. For example, they could initially disclose only their name, age, and country of residence to build a foundation of trust, and then wait until the relationship has progressed before sharing additional information. Either way, Yoti is attesting to the accuracy of the information being presented, so people can trust that the other person is who they say they are even if they don’t have access to all of their personal information.
The Meet Group and DateID have previously used Yoti’s technology to verify the ages and identities of people using their online dating platforms. The app had been downloaded more than 10 million times as of April of 2021.