After analysing a wave of scams spreading worldwide before Valentine’s Day strikes again this year, Bitdefender researchers have found that pornography is no longer a scammer’s favourite bait with Valentine-themed spam containing links to pornographic videos falling by 1% in 2015.
But that doesn’t mean scammers have gone all romantic – they’re just resorting to other old tricks to leave them heart-broken, and broke.
Some seasonal scams never get old. These include fake travel offers, heart-shaped diamond jewellery, clothes, personalised e-cards, restaurant coupons and more. Here are some of the most popular Valentine’s Day scams of the season:
Watch out for emails promising a romantic getaway for two or plane tickets at unbelievably low prices – you can end up paying for your trip and staying at home, too. Even offers from reputable brands should be viewed with a critical eye.
They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, but be careful not to order adware and malware with your pizza! These sites can collect your location and other very personal details which reveal your identity to thieves.
Wine-tasting events have also become quite popular and identity thieves were quick to seize on the opportunity this year. They attract wine-lovers using names of celebrities like Johnny Depp but once the users click, they can be redirected to a fake site that steals account credentials.
Scammers are known to take advantage of people’s good will on any occasion and Valentine’s Day is no exception. Emails claiming to be from PETA or UNICEF encourage users to make a donation in the name of someone they love, but the money will most probably end up in hackers’ hands.
Diamonds are a girl’s best friend but they can also prove to be their worst enemy. These types of scams are extremely popular these days, so users should research sellers’ sites before paying a lot of cash for a fake diamond ring or other precious items.
Scammers know everyone is shopping for the perfect Valentine’s Day gift, be it flowers, watches or clothing items.
Compared to last year, there is a decrease in the number of tricks inviting users to download Valentine’s Day wallpapers or special greeting cards that redirect to fraudulent websites.
Some scammers have gone completely undercover, luring users with a mysterious offer in hopes of stirring their curiosity.
As tempted as you may be, don’t rush into buying gifts over the Internet without a detailed preliminary check. Remember these simple security tips:
This month, Australian singles will flock to the multitude of dating services that are available online. According to the eHarmony.com.au Dating Index which measured interest in dating from 2012-2014, the average yearly interest around Valentine’s Day has increased by 113% suggesting it’s becoming more entrenched in Australian culture.
With the popularity of online dating services on the rise, this has caught the attention of scammers.
What are the risks?
As with anything you post online, it’s out there for everyone to see, so you will want to be careful with what identifiable information you use in your dating profile. While there are a plethora of legitimate daters on these sites, you still don’t know what kinds of individuals you are dealing with. You can run the risk of becoming a victim of stalking, harassment, Catfishing, identity theft, webcam blackmail and even phishing scams. In order to help mitigate these risks, be very careful with what information you provide on your profile.
Profile Do’s and Don’ts:
How to spot online dating scams:
Catfishing is a different kind of scam in and of itself. Catfishing is when a user assumes the identity of someone else. This tactic is used by online predators to try to trick people into an online romantic relationship. Catfishers will always make up excuses as to why they can’t meet you, talk on the phone or meet up on webcam. If the user’s profile seems too good to be true, it probably is. Do a reverse online image search of their photos, and if they appear in other places, under other names, you may have caught yourself a catfish.
We are now in the age of the Internet where we can order up anything from toothpaste to significant others online. As with all areas of the cyber landscape there are scammers and hackers abound, but if you keep your wits about you and follow the advice in this article, you can safely add love to your shopping cart.