WHETHER you’re lucky or desperate in love, you’re likely to be messed up in the heart and head. A perfect opportunity for love scammers to go a hunting with digital dexterity as they take full advantage of those opening their hearts up for a Valentine’s Day arrow.
The Singapore Police Force revealed that $37 million was lost to love scammers in 2017, with one victim being lightened in the wallet by $6 million. The number of folks scammed jumped by 30%, while the amount swindled doubled.
Online dating is fast becoming the way to pick up a potential life partner, but that means you have to take a risk and open up to people you have probably no prior contact with.
Before you plunge into the dating pool, take heed of advice from Nick FitzGerald, senior research fellow at IT security company ESET. Some of them would seem like common sense, but when you think you’re in love, there’s a lot of misfiring going on in the brain.
So, beware when…
- They ask you for money. If you decline and they lose interest straight away it’s very likely they were a scammer. Don’t ever send money. You might think it sounds like a no-brainer, but it happens more than you think.
- They don’t want to chat on the phone. If they’re never willing to speak on the phone or are keen to take communication off the dating site. Many scammers pretend to be from English speaking countries, so a phone conversation would easily blow their cover.
- They don’t share photos of themselves. Scammers tend to create fake profiles using photos that are found online. A Google Image search might reveal if their photos have been “borrowed”. Be wary of profiles without pictures, details and interests. This is a clear warning of a fake profile.
- They don’t answer questions. Ask questions about them, especially where they work. If they do not answer, or deflect, that should be a red flag. If you can’t find them on social media platforms then they probably aren’t real as it’s almost impossible not to leave traces online these days. Some profiles are run by bots which use predetermined responses. Such bots are also programmed to ask you to pay or download something that’s most likely malicious.
- They come on too strong. Beware if they say they “I love you” or “you’re my soulmate” after only a few hours or days of chatting online.
- They ask you for specific personal information. They might be hoping to snare the answers to typical security questions such as your mother’s maiden name, favourite movie or first school.
- They ask for racy photos. Blackmail is a common tactic that love scammers adopt so do not send pictures of yourself, or appear on webcam, in a manner that would compromise yourself.
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That doesn’t mean you give up on love and take cover. Just be smart about how you handle yourself and your potential Valentine. An arrow through the heart should ideally not pierce your wallet.