With Valentine”s Day approaching, you can bet that con artists will try to prey on lovebirds across the world. Here is how to prevent a sting in the tail this Valentine”s Day, from romance frauds and sextortion to fraudulent dating sites and phishing tactics.
The internet is filled with stories of online romance frauds and since COVID-19 has forced everyone to be home much more and not meet physically there has been a significant increase in these sorts of frauds.
There are common red flags to look out for when you meet someone online. Some of these red flags are:
- They claim to be from another country and that they cannot stay in one spot for long.
- They try to entice you away from whatever platform you are on by offering to communicate with you via email or video chat.
- Their profile and photographs are most times far too good to be true.
- They quicky declare their love for you.
- In the initial meeting, they reveal a lot about themselves, often personal information.
- They claim they require funds for a variety of reasons, including helping friends or family, repatriation, or something else entirely.
There are some guidelines to help avoid being defrauded:
- Do not provide the details that fraudsters require. Fraudsters use information you provide about yourself on the internet to alter their script and entice you in.
- Search for the photo and the name of the person you are in contact with in an image search engine. Fraudsters frequently exploit the image of another person as bait.
- Fraudsters often attempt to establish rapport with their victims as quickly as possible to defraud them of their money. Take things slow
- Be wary if they encourage you to invest in something. Start researching the company online to see if it”s worth investing in, as they claim. Never send money to them.
- Always go with your instincts. If something doesn”t feel right, break off communication right away and report the matter to the police and the dating or social networking site where you met the scammer.
Sextortion is a dangerous crime in which someone threatens to release your private and sensitive information unless you provide them with sexual photographs, sexual favors, or money. fraudsters may attempt sextortion in many ways but there are two sextortion tactics that are common among them.
- A fraudster sends an email to their target, claiming to have a video showing them in a compromising position (usually watching porn). The sender then requests that the recipient donate Bitcoin in exchange for the video”s silence. It”s vital to note that these kinds of sextortion emails are merely bluffs and should be ignored.
- On social media, video chat, dating sites, or online video games, a fraudster befriends their target. They make their victim upload videos of themselves naked or performing a sexual act under duress. The victim is then forced to create new videos using this content.
Protecting against sextortion
To protect against falling victim to sextortion, you can follow the guidelines outlined below:
- What you say to someone online should be treated with extreme caution. When asked specific questions, remain ambiguous and avoid providing answers. Remember that with today”s technology, people can claim to be someone they aren”t online, and even look and sound like someone else.
- Personalize the privacy settings and security of all social media accounts.
- You have no control over where something goes after you send it to someone whether it”s a stranger, a love partner, a relative, or a friend.
- If a fraudster claims to have compromising photographs of you but fails to offer you any proof, they are most likely lying. Offering evidence of your identity, such as a password or phone number, only implies they have that information from another breach, not that they have access to your computer or webcam.
- If they do offer you proof of the photographs, report to the police as soon as possible. Never engage in conversation with a sextortionist.
Fake dating sites
With the number of people using online dating services increasing over the previous year, it”s only natural that more options have become available. However, some of them are more concerned with matching themselves to personal user data than with matching users to one another.
Scammers build dating websites that appear real, and they ask you to perform the things that every dating site asks you to do, such as filling out your profile and credit card information. However, the websites are bogus. After you”ve signed up, you”ll start receiving messages from other users with incomplete profiles with no photos or basic information.
These websites are set up to entice consumers to sign up, attach their personal information, including credit card information, and then bill them even if they terminate their subscription. While the services do offer profiles, matches, and even allow users to communicate with one another, it”s worth noting that, because these sites are false, the people who frequent them are almost certainly also fraudulent. It”s possible that they”re bots or site staff who oversee many account personalities.
Avoiding fake dating sites
Here are some tips for avoiding fake dating websites:
- Do some in-depth research. Prefix your search queries with “scam” and “reviews” if you”re looking for information on the sites on the internet.
- When a large number of people start lining up to meet you, be wary, especially if your profile is incomplete. This appears to be too wonderful to be true.
- Understand how the dating site operates, including how and how much members are charged. If you cancel a subscription with a specific website, make sure to contact your bank to ensure that the recurring payment is stopped on your end.
The Guyana National CIRT recommends that users and administrators review these recommendations and implement where necessary.
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