Love Is In The Air... Or Is It Really?

by News Editor on February 1st, 2013 in Industry and Security News.

Valentine’s Day is typically a day when couples rejoice their everlasting love for each other while single people mock and pretend that it is just another normal day.

Scam artists and cybercriminals are looking to turn romance into profit and are out to trick the love fools and the love skeptics alike, with a range of devilish scams, rip-offs and tricks to get their hands of your personal information. Now that Valentine's Day is fast approaching, they are possibly taking over your computer in the process.
We all know that social media is jam-packed with scams but these seasonal scams tend to be disregarded because they normally get hidden underneath the madness. Valentine’s Day scams are often associated with ambiguous e-cards and shady URLs. Since cybercriminals are constantly trying to find loopholes or vulnerabilities to exploit, and new threats are emerging every day on the web. They are definitely getting more and more creative.

A recent report from the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) reinforces the fact that people looking for love online need to remain vigilant about who they choose to communicate with and how they do so. There have been circumstances where people have been victimized from the online dating scams. Typically, it would start off when singles are usually contacted online by someone (scammers in this case) who appears to be interested in them.

The scammers will continue an online relationship for months. Once they have gained the victim's trust they will begin asking for money. They will play on every sympathy possible, to get the target to dig into their pocket book. As most of the profiles claim to be from underdeveloped or war torn countries they will use guilt as a means to pick the victim’s pocket.

In order to protect yourself against online dating scams, always remember not to fall for a person who claims to be in love with you at first sight. Scammers usually use emotional ties to increase the chances of getting your money. Also, be very careful about giving out personal information to someone you have met online. It could be ANYONE posing as someone else.

The Better Business Bureau recently published an article which elaborates more on such scams. Someone who pretends to be someone they’re not, using social media or online dating websites is known in the urban dictionary as a “catfish,” and their activities are referred to as, “catfishing.” Or “catphishing” spelled with a ‘ph’ as a nod to classic phishing scams. Catfish (or catphish) are looking for romantic attention, personal information and/or financial support by way of deception. They put a lot of time and effort into building a fake persona and relationship with their victim(s).

Here are some other examples of the threats that are expected to surface during Valentine’s Day this year.

  • Valentine’s-themed spam mails or banners.

Be careful of which links you click today, spammers will target those who've left their gift-buying until the last minute. Only pay for a gift online when you know and trust the source or well-known retailers or otherwise your credit card details could fall prey to scammers.

  • Watch that V-Day e-cards.

So, someone does love you after all, and they've sent you a nice card. Or have they? It could actually be a phishing attempt to steal your information or infect your computer with spyware. Remember to only open those emails sent by people whom you trust. Ignore those secret admirer messages!!!!

  • Unsafe search.

Desperately looking for a last minute gift? Be wary of online offers for typically Valentines-y gifts that seem too good to be true. They most likely are. Gold prices are going through the roof at the moment, thanks the global maelstrom of financial events, so be wary of anyone offering a crazy deal.

  • Lovely malware.

Tempted to download a sweet cupid-themed video, wallpaper, song, or a Valentine’s Day Facebook profile theme? Be wary. Scammers prey on the soppy-hearted, due, as previously mentioned to their dark hearts made of shattered dreams. That cute little download could pack a nasty bit of malware.

One of the easiest ways to avoid such heartache and safe from all these hysterias is by making sure that your computer is protected with the newest version antivirus/antimalware software. Download your latest Ad-Aware version 10.4 and get yourself protected from V-Day scams.