Love is in the Air
Cyber attackers are opportunistic, and with Valentine's Day right around the corner, you can expect to see an increase in threats related to socially engineered relationships.
Virtual lunch dates, wine tastings, and chat rooms have created an easy way to put ourselves into a space where we cannot truly see the person on the other end of the keyboard. In addition, many people now use online dating applications and social networking sites to meet people with common interests.
In doing so, you will likely be in the same environment as criminals looking for victims of a romance scam or other social engineering scams.
What Is a Social Engineering Scam?
Social scams occur when the scammer exploits one's emotional vulnerability for money or control of the victim. As the elderly can be more vulnerable, it can also present as elder abuse.
How Common Is this?
An AARP survey reported 27% of U.S. adults have been targeted or knew someone that was targeted by an online relationship scam, and 4% fell victim.
Where Does This Occur?
It doesn't necessarily need to be a dating site. It could be on one of many social networking sites or inside popular gaming apps like Words with Friends, Online Chess, or even a gaming console.
How Do You Recognize the Scam?
- Most scammers will say they can't meet you in person. They will communicate that their job is outside of the country.
- Scammers will ask many questions early in the conversation.
- Scammers may ask for private photos to use as blackmail.
- Scammers will ask for money once they gain your trust. They could ask for help to pay a medical bill or plane tickets for an in-person visit.
- Scammers will tell you how to pay as they want to get their money quickly. Cash applications, wire transfers, gift cards, cryptocurrency, and more have been used.
What to Do If You Suspect the Scam?
- Never send money or gifts to someone you haven't met in person.
- Stop communicating with the person immediately.
- Talk to someone you trust. Are your friends and family concerned?
- Search online for their job type and type the word 'scam' after the job type. Have others posted similar stories?
- Do a reverse image search of the person's picture profile. Does it associate with another name?
What To Do If You're a Victim?
If you or someone you know has been targeted and/or fallen victim to a social engineering scam of this type, file a complaint with the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).
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