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Valentine’s Day and online romance scams…

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Valentine’s Day and online romance scams…

The romance scams online are a growing phenomenon, especially during Valentine’s Day. This is a form of cybercrime in which the scammer pretends to fall in love with the victim to extort money or sensitive information. In this article, we will see how to recognize red flags and prevent this type of scam, which can affect anyone who registers on a dating site or app (and not only).

What is an online romance scam?

An online romance scam, also known as romance scamis a scam where iThe criminal pretends to be interested in a romantic relationship with the victim, often a woman, to exploit her financially or to obtain her personal data. This scam generally happens on dating sites or appsbut it can continue on other channels, such as social networks or private chats, where the scammer can act more easily (and discreetly).

The scammer’s ultimate goal is almost always moneybut in some cases he may also try to steal the victim’s data to use in other scams (such as identity theft or money laundering).

How does it work

An online romance scam follows a fairly typical pattern, which can vary depending on the circumstances and techniques used by the scammer. In general, the process is as follows:

The scammer contacts the victim on a dating site and begins courting her. He pretends to be in love and tries to create a virtual relationship with the victim. He makes excuses not to meet the victim in person. He often says he works in a particular field, such as medicine or the military. He tries to make the relationship more personal and intimate. He avoids making calls or video calls with the victim. At a certain point, he begins to ask the victim for favors or directly for money. Once he achieves his goal, he disappears without a trace.

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Valentine’s Day is upon us: how to protect yourself from scams

Despite the skill of some scammers, It’s not difficult to recognize an online romance scam, because there are some red flags that can warn the victim. Some of these are:

The scammer’s profile is inexplicably perfectespecially photos, which are often stolen from other sites or from real people.

The scammer avoids meeting the victim in personeven when the relationship is advanced.

The scammer tries to take the relationship to a deeper level and emotionally engaging, perhaps declaring his love in a short time.

The scammer avoids making calls or video calls with the victimso as not to show his true face or his true voice.

The scammer starts asking the victim for gifts or moneyinventing dramatic stories or sudden emergencies.

The scammer asks the victim very personal questionsto obtain useful information for his scams.

The scammer tries to move the conversation to a private channellike WhatsApp, so as not to be tracked or reported.

If you notice some of these signs, it is good to be cautious and evaluate the possibility of being faced with a scammer. In general, the principle that “If something seems too good to be true, it probably isn’t”.

How to prevent romance scams on Valentine’s Day (and beyond)

Preventing an online romance scam is not easy, because cybercriminals use different and targeted profiles for their victims. However, there are some precautions you can take to reduce risks and protect yourself from this type of cybercrime. Some of these, reported to us by Panda Security experts, are:

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Share your personal information as little as possiblesuch as name, address, telephone number, bank details, etc.

Differentiate your profile on the dating site from those on social networks, to prevent scammers from cross-referencing the data and discovering more information about the victim. If you start an online relationship with someone, but you have some doubts about their identity, you can do an online search for his photosto check if it is a fake profile or a real person.

Better protect your accounts and devices by using two-factor authenticationinstalling a good antivirus and using a password manager to create strong and unique passwords.

Finally, a general recommendation: in the case of sentimental scams (attempted or completed) always report the incident to the Postal Police. Furthermore, if you perceive a risk to your physical safety, contact an association against gender violence. Among the many we highlight DiRe (Women Networking Against Violence).

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