Dating app users warned to watch out for scammers
According to a report by UK Finances, which warns the public to keep an eye out for such scams around Valentine’s Day.
Typical scams involve targets being tricked into handing money over to cybercriminals who often go to great lengths to convince their victims that they are in a true long-distance relationship, using social engineering techniques to manipulate them.
With figures from the Online Dating Association suggesting that 2.3 million UK citizens used dating apps during the lockdown, it may not be surprising that enterprising cybercriminals have rallied around apps and dating services; a total of £ 18.5million was reportedly lost to bank transfer fraud last year, with an average loss per victim of £ 7,850.
More broadly, Action Fraud estimates that £ 68million has been lost to these scams, via money transfers, gift cards and vouchers, high value goods and, in some cases, con artists with direct access to their brand’s bank account or credit cards.
Katy Worobec, Managing Director of Economic Crime at UK Finance, said: “With the increasing use of users of online dating services during lockdown, criminals are using smart tactics to exploit people who think they have met their partner. ideal online.
“Romance scams can leave customers with no love and no money, but there are steps people can take to protect themselves, their family and friends, both online and offline.
“People can help loved ones spot the signs of a scam, especially since romantic con artists can be very convincing by forming an emotional attachment with their victims.”
Pauline Smith, Head of Action Fraud, added: “Sadly, last year we saw criminals exploit the coronavirus pandemic as a means of committing fraud, and romance fraud was no exception. National lockdowns and other restrictions on our social lives, implemented due to the coronavirus outbreak, have meant more people have searched for company online and this has undoubtedly affected the number of reports we have. seen.
“It’s important to say that most online dating sites, social media sites, and gaming apps are perfectly safe. However, any online platform that allows you to connect and talk to other people could be the target of romantic scammers, so it’s important to stay vigilant, ”she said.
Before February 14th, UK Finance urges people to be vigilant, both about their own online activities and that of their family and friends, and most importantly, to have the confidence to report if they have been victimized fraudsters, because help is available from Action Fraude on 0300 123 2040 or on actionfraud.police.uk. Scots are to report to Scottish Police on 101.
Dating app users should beware of requests from someone they have never physically met and be aware of fake profiles and photos – a reverse image search can easily identify a cybercriminal using it. ” a stored image or photo taken by someone else, instructions on how to perform a can be found here.
In particular, if you haven’t met someone in person, under no circumstances should you send them money, give them access to your bank account, transfer money on their behalf, or contract a ready for him, provide copies of personal documents such as passports, invest your own money on their advice or on their behalf, purchase and send the codes on gift cards, or agree to receive or send items on their behalf .
Anyone who is concerned that a friend or relative may be victimized may watch out for several warning signs, including being secretive and evasive about their relationship, investing unusually strong emotions in someone they seem to have just met, or make plans to take out loans or withdraw funds from their bank or pension to send money.
Valentine’s Day scams
The impact of romance fraud also extends far beyond the consumer realm to affect businesses as well, especially during lockdown, like Simon Mullis, EMEA CTO of a security firm. tanium, Explain.
“As Valentine’s Day scams are likely to target personal email accounts, businesses need to ensure they have visibility into devices connected to a corporate network by staff,” he said. declared.
“This can be an expensive blind spot for organizations, but if they are able to detect the entry point of a successful phishing attack and see how a system has been affected, quick action can be taken. to solve the problem.
“The point is, a lot of people work from home, and some malware families allow bad guys to switch from host to host on the same network, which means even a home’s personal computers. shared home network can pose a threat and be a “gateway” to company assets, ”Mullis said.