A heart-breaking statistic has recently been discussed by security software experts, yet it’s perhaps not a surprising one.
Avast posted an article about romance and confidence fraud to its blog following contact with an FBI expert. Titled ‘Romance and confidence fraud: Cybercrime’s $363 million secret’, Jeff Elder’s article is a fascinating read.
It revealed that fraud relating to dating sites and social media is currently the second-costliest type of cybercrime out there.
The blog post also referenced some real-life examples, mentioned in the FBI report that published the statistic.
So, what is romance and confidence fraud?
Only compromised business email fraud is bigger that this type of online deception. The FBI describes it as a perpetrator deceiving a victim online into believing that they have ‘a trust relationship, whether family, friendly, or romantic’.
After this the victim will be persuaded to send money, personal and financial information, or to launder money on behalf of the perpetrator.
“What does romance fraud look like?” read Elder’s article. “The FBI cases read like the ultimate cautionary tales about not falling for smooth-talkers.
‘A Houston woman sent $2 million to “Charlie,” her apparent online boyfriend, whom she came to trust over months of correspondence.
“An Oregon man accepted money from his supposed online girlfriend and sent it to an account at her direction, not realizing he was laundering the money from other fraud victims.”
Would it surprise you to learn that these scams happen 50 times a day? “If this sounds rare, it isn’t”, continues Elder’s article.
“The scams happened 18,493 times last year, the FBI reports – an average of more than 50 times a day. Identity theft happened 13% less often.
“Victims are predominantly older widowed or divorced women, the FBI says. Their supposed princes are often criminals who are computer literate and educated.
“Using social media and dating site profiles for background information, the con artists get close to their marks online through discussing hobbies and pursuits they supposedly have in common.”
How can you prevent romance and confidence fraud?
You will always be advised to contact your relevant law enforcement. However, the FBI has also shared common warning signs that those looking for love online should watch out for.
- Someone online professes love quickly and tries to isolate you from friends and family.
- An online connection presses you to leave a dating website where you met to communicate solely through email or instant messaging.
- Someone claims to be working and living far away – whether that’s on the other side of the country or overseas.
- A connection sends you a photo that looks like a glamour shot out of a magazine.
- Someone asks for money or your help moving money.
- A connection makes plans to visit you, but then always must cancel because of some emergency.
Avast’s article also contains an interview with Special Agent Christine Beining, a veteran financial fraud investigator in the FBI’s Tampa, Fla., division. It’s well worth checking out; to read the full article click here.
Meanwhile, Avast’s Jas Dhaliwal has explained how a secure browser and anti-tracking solution can also help to protect you. Further information about Avast’s products can be found right here on FileHippo.com.
Also – stay tuned to the FileHippo News Blog where we will keep you updated about the latest cyber threats that you need to know about!