How to avoid dating an online scammer

Just like many others, you may have received anonymous Valentines letters or notes—albeit in digital form. Your curiosity is quite understandable in this case, but do not let it reduce your vigilance—instead of romance, such messages may possibly lead to malware or real money loss.

While installing a reliable internet security suite such as Kaspersky Internet Security 2017 will secure from malware and malicious links, it will not protect you from a broken heart.

So to keep you safe from being broken hearted and scammed even after Valentine’s, we have put together a list of common scams and some tips to ensure your safety and to keep your digital life uncompromised:

 

Scam: Mutual connection
This is where a scammer contacts you via social channels and claims having common interest or a mutual connection with you maybe from an introduction at a wedding or large gathering. If you often post pictures and haven’t updated your privacy settings, it’s easy guesswork for the cybercriminals.

Tip: If you receive such a claim, and no matter how desperate you are, dismiss the conversation and never add that person as a friend. Also, update your privacy settings to share posts only with those you know.

 
Scam: Intimate activity
Here is a very common scam especially for those in a long distance internet dating relationship. After an intense courtship period, the scammer asks the victim to connect with them via webcam and “chat.” The fraudster’s webcam is mysteriously broken, but they heap praise on their victim and, with a combination of flattery and persistence, convince their “partner” to partially disrobe or perform other intimate acts.

The scammer then reveals his/her true identity. They claim to have made a video recording and threaten to share that with mutual social media friends or post the recording online, unless the victim sends money. Once the victim complies, the cycle begins—demands increase until the victim finally refuses.

Tip: If it involves a webcam and you are asked to perform indecent acts, never ever give into to the demands, no matter what they are. If the relationship is real, then you would wait to meet each other in person.

 

Scam: Fake dating sites
Beware of fake dating sites. Their services may claim to offer legitimate meetups, but are either severely underpopulated or awash with scammers and bots.

Tip: Look out for sign-up questionnaires that are light on personal details, but heavy on questions about finances. Also watch for an influx of attention just after you’ve created your profile. If all your profile contains is a few lines of text, no photo and no set preferences, but you start getting message after message from potential suitors, chances are you’ve stumbled across a fake dating site.

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Other things to pay attention to even on legitimate dating sites—let’s face it, scammers are everywhere—include the following:

Suspicious spelling and grammar
If they supposedly come from an English-speaking nation, be on the lookout for awful spelling and grammar. While not everyone looking for love online has the soul and finesse of William Shakespeare, truly terrible grammatical errors and run-on sentences are red flags. The same goes for emails. Native English speakers have a natural cadence when they speak and write that isn’t easily mimicked. Be suspicious if something seems “off” about the tone or pacing.

Cut-and-paste
If messages and profile descriptions read too well, be worried. Often, scammers won’t bother writing their own material, but instead lift it from other websites or dating profiles. Here, it’s a good idea to run suspicious text through an Internet search to see if any matches come up. If they do, don’t message or respond to this scam artist.

Weird links
Legitimate users often post links to their favorite bands, travel destinations or hobbies. Scammers typically fill their profiles with links to low-quality “spam” sites that are trying to sell a product or teach you to “get rich quick.” You may also find links to X-rated websites—a warning sign that the profile isn’t entirely legitimate.

Double time
While strong feelings often accompany the first few weeks of any new romance, scammers will try to accelerate this process even further by offering not only a huge volume of compliments and kind words, but also intimate details of their own life that they have “never shared with anyone else.” What can be even more troubling is if after just a few chat sessions or emails, they’re asking for a small amount of money to cover strange expenses—perhaps they’re stranded in a foreign country, have a family member in medical distress or have just been robbed, and need you to wire transfer money ASAP. If requests for money are ever on the table, walk away.

 

(Edited Press Release)

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