Cyber criminals will do anything to make money, including playing cupid and stringing victims into webs of deceit at the heart of matters , literally.
This Valentine Day, rogue individuals with search dating sites, apps, chat rooms, and other social media networking sites in an attempt to initiate relationships with unsuspecting users.
They want money and data.
Here’s how it typically works: A scammer creates a phony profile either on a dating site or on social media and then methodically cultivates an online relationship with their target. The idea is to gradually build up a relationship over time and get the victim to trust them. Then they get to the real business at hand.
What to do?
1-Think twice if your romantic interest suddenly asks you to communicate on another platform or phone.
2- Asking for money or other financial assistance are red flags.
3- Alarms should go off if someone asks you to buy them gift cards from vendors like Amazon, or Google Play.
4- Keep your personal data private and don’t share.
5- Do a reverse image search to check whether someone’s profile picture is being used elsewhere and where.
6- Only use reputable, nationally recognized dating websites. Do not blindly believe the stories of severe life circumstances, tragedies, family deaths, injuries, or other hardships geared at keeping your interest and concern.
7- If the request is from someone familiar, call them to verify the request. Don’t just take a social media message at face value.
Don’t be a statistic
These are statistics relevant to the UK, but they are good indicators to follow.
1 in 5 people who use online dating services say they have been asked for or given money to someone they met over the internet, a survey has found.
The research was released by trade association UK Finance, which is warning people against romance scams as Valentine’s Day approaches on Friday February 14.
Men (26%) were more likely to be asked for money than women (15%).
The average amount of money that was requested or given was £321 ($414).
UK Finance data shows that £7.9 million ($10.2 million) was lost to romance scams in the first half of 2019, an increase of 50% on the previous year.