Her research ESET reveals that 52% of people say that loneliness during Valentine's Day makes them more vulnerable to the methods used by fraudsters.
It is true that we are all looking for the special person with whom we will share our life. Some of us are lucky enough to find him quickly. But for the rest, the search continues - and more and more, this search is being done online.
The result is that by 2025 the global online dating market is expected to arrive nearly $ 3,6 billion.
But you can not believe what you read or who you meet on the internet. The internet is full of people who are not who they say they are. All too often, their goal is to get their hands on your money. They are skilled manipulators of human emotion. And in lonely people, they find the perfect victims.
According to experts at cyber security company ESET, there are things you can do to leave swindlers in the cold of the bathroom on Valentine's Day. We reveal them all below.
How do romance scams work?
"Romantic scams", or catfishing scams, occur when scammers adopt fake personalities on dating sites. They become friends with lonely people, form a relationship with them and possibly even propose marriage to them. But very soon they will find an occasion to ask you for money or they will urge you to open a new, joint bank account for you and for them. This account is commonly used to launder black money from criminal activities, effectively turning the victim of a romantic scam into a money laundering accomplice.
According to data from 2018, 30% of the victims were used for money laundering. They may even try to persuade you to send revealing photos or videos that they will use to blackmail you.
One thing is for sure: romantic scams are big business. Although he was only 8th most commonly reported type of cybercrime in the US, in 2020 romantic scams rose to 2η position on the list of the most profitable scams, with fraudsters having managed to make more than $ 600 million, an amount that exceeded half a billion dollars in 2019.
How will you know if you are being deceived?
Many of these scams follow a similar pattern. Usually fraudsters:
- They pretend to live or work abroad.
- They claim to work in an oil field, in the army, or as doctors.
- They ask a lot of personal questions to the victim
- They avoid answering questions about their lives
- They escalate the relationship with the victim very quickly to "romantic"
- They find more and more complicated excuses not to meet live or via video call
- They often seek to transfer the conversation quickly from the dating site to a private chat.
- They have perfect profile pictures
- They tell complicated stories about why they need money, including to pay for:
- Travel expenses, such as airline tickets
- Medical expenses
- Visas and travel documents
- Gambling debts
- Customs duties on imported goods
If scammers ask for money, they will ask the would-be victim to either send it to them or possibly ask them to buy them gift cards or prepaid cards. If the victim refuses, the scammer will continue to pressure the would-be victim until he or she retreats, possibly using increasingly elaborate excuses for why he or she needs the money. Some victims have lost tens or even hundreds of thousands of euros this way.
How to fool a "romantic swindler"
ESET survey reveals that 52% of people believe that loneliness during Valentine's Day makes them more vulnerable to the methods used by fraudsters.
So what can you do to repel the scammers of romantic love?
First of all, it's worth doing some research for anyone you meet online. It may not sound very romantic, but in the long run it will probably save you a lot of pain and money.
- Do a reverse search of their profile picture to see if it matches other names or items
- Search the internet for their name and details to see if the story is being verified
To minimize the chances of catching the attention of a potential scammer, do not share too much personal information on social media. Go slow with each new online relationship and ask lots of questions. If they do evade, this should raise suspicions. It goes without saying that you should never send money to someone you have not met in person, open new bank accounts for them or send revealing photos / videos.
What to do if you suspect you have been the victim of a scam
- Discontinue all communication with the person immediately.
- Share your concerns with a friend or family member
- If you paid them with a gift card, contact the provider immediately and see if they can get your money back.
- Report the incident to the Authorities
Distance dating has become more common in the age of pandemics. Unfortunately, this also opens the door to scammers. If the worst happens and you end up a victim, it is really important not to suffer silently. Do not be ashamed to report the crime. Your actions could save others.
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