On Valentine's Day, some timely hints from Kaspersky, on how to detect a web-based romance scam
February 14 2017: It's an all too familiar scenario. You "meet" someone through a dating website or a chat room, the other person seems oh-so compatible and pretty soon you feel you 'know' each other and are sending your photo or other private material.
|With online dating websites and apps, it seems so easy to find a partner or even a match – even from a different country. You think you can judge if you like the person by looking at their picture and also read their profile details to see if they’re “your type”.
They make things so easy: you can create a detailed profile of whom you want to date online and a few choices pop up!
But on the Internet, you can never know who is at the other end. It could be what is called a "Catfisher", who often uses the identity of a real person to fool you and is sending fake photos and contact information.
It is generally believed that men are more gullible in this area, but there are many cases where women have been scammed of money by their internet dates. However, the real figures on romantic frauds are never known because many of the victims, prefer to keep silent.
Also, there are instances where website employees behaved like scammers as there were only a few women registered on the site. So they create accounts of pretty girls themselves using pictures copied from anywhere on the internet. Then, there are bots created to lure newcomers into chat and get them to pay money to continue the conversation.
And don't think: "I'm smart, not like a lot of gullible people. I can take care of myself." Says Monica Whitty, a cyber-psychologist from the University of Leicester: “You don’t have to be ‘vulnerable’. You can be a highly intelligent person with a good job. The strategies these fraudsters use are highly sophisticated.”
Whitty has experience working with victims of romance frauds. She adds: “Most crime victims are given sympathy and support, but in the case of online fraud, friends and family are furious. Their response is, “How could you be so gullible?”
On Valentine's Day, when a lot of young people are more vulnerable, it is sensible to guard against such scams. provide the following advice:
Installing a reliable internet security suite will secure you 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 this Valentine’s Day, Net security specialists Kaspersky, have put together list of common scams and some tips to ensure your safety and your digital life is not compromised:
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’re a serial poster of 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 with only those you know.
Scam: Intimate Activity
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 their true identity. They claim to have made a video recording and threaten to share the video 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.
Scam: Fake Dating Sites
Many services 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.
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.
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.
Legitimate users often post links to their favourite 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.
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.
Additional info: We found another take with helpful visuals on Avoiding onoline romance scams at WikiHow