February 14, 2023

Avoid Getting Scammed This Valentine’s Day

Avoid Getting Scammed This Valentine’s Day Cybersecurity & Digital Forensics

With the arrival of Valentine’s Day those looking for love may turn to online dating sites. Some may find real love while others will be targeted by scammers. These scammers are experts at creating a false sense of passion and devotion, relying on their victim’s emotional investment to extract something of value. Do you know how to spot these scammers and protect yourself?

Online dating sites have grown in popularity (Statista.com estimates that by 2027 about 440 million individuals will be utilizing online dating sites) but for some they’ve become anything but a match made in heaven: In 2021, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) estimated that victims lost about $547 million to romance fraudsters. There are many red flags to look for when using an online dating service. Here are a few tips help you identify potential scams and scammers:

  • They use a fake profile. Watch out for profiles with no photo, those using a stock image as their photo, as well as anyone who lives in another country but is looking for “dates” in your area. Try a simple google search of their bio or reverse image search their photos. That may reveal the profile uses images or content taken from another source on the web.
  • They declare their love immediately, without ever meeting you. Be wary of uncomfortable conversations, especially if they use inappropriate or awkward language, or try to push you to do things for them.
  • They say they need money for crises, healthcare expenses, or trips. Be suspicious of anyone approaching you for money no matter how terrible of a situation they claim to be in.
  • They make excuses for not meeting on camera or in person. To avoid meeting virtually or otherwise, they may claim a bad internet connection or say that something came up last minute. Sometimes they might tie this into a request for you to send them money. Ex. “I really want to meet you but I can’t afford a ticket right now.”
  • They try to move the communication off of the dating site to other platforms like WhatsApp, Snapchat or elsewhere by sending you a link. These apps have the disappearing message feature, preventing digital copies of the conversations for future reference. Always be careful opening links from strangers as they can imbed intrusive malware on your device.

Cyber Security is Strictly Business

Companies do need to be concerned with workers’ cyber hygiene and, at the risk of getting too personal, may want to offer tips on avoiding romance scams. When it comes to establishing a cyber-secure workplace, cultivating an understanding culture is key. Learning online scams of all kinds can promote a good security culture while also contributing to a more cyber resilient society. Those familiar with the cyber risks that affect their personal lives will be more likely to exhibit good cyber security practices at work. Becoming a victim of online romance scams can also lead to your workplace being compromised. For example, if you’re using a dating app on a phone you also use for business purposes, a malware infection could have devastating consequences – both personally and professionally.

If you think you have been a victim of an online dating scam, submit your experience to the online dating site, your financial institution, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).