Online dating has become a popular way to meet new people, but with the rise in popularity comes the rise of privacy and safety concerns. From hackers using the information provided by users to cyber security breaches and sensitive content being sold as a commodity, there are many dangers to watch out for. In this article, we will explore these dangers and provide tips on how to protect your privacy and safety while using online dating services.
Swindlers who specialize in romantic scams target love seekers across a variety of platforms. While seems to believe the threat is mainly focused on traditional dating websites, reports by the American Federal Trade Commission (FTC) demonstrate that scammers also prey on their victims on recreational and professional social media platforms. In fact, 40% of people who reported being deceived by a romance scam last year said that the initial contact occurred on social media, while 19% said it began on a website or app. Many people also reported that the scammer quickly diverted the conversation to other platforms like WhatsApp, Google Chat, or Telegram.
Real love can’t remain virtual forever
If someone you meet online asks for money, a donation, or offers an attractive investment opportunity without meeting in person or with vague promises to do so in the future, that’s a red flag. FCS’s reports show that threat actors’ excuses are often baked right into their fake identities. They may claim to be on a distant military facility or offshore oil rig or impersonate a successful person, investor, or entrepreneur. Those people are professionals who will sweet-talk their way into your pocket. If the situation seems too good to be true, or if a significant amount of time has passed without meeting in person, it’s best to cut off communication. You might spend a few days sobbing into a pint of ice cream, but financial security is better than bankruptcy.
Unfortunately, the scam is unlikely to end there. Some criminals would maximize their efforts by publicly auctioning their victim’s explicit content to the highest bidder over underground marketplaces.
The cost of falling in love
According to a report conducted by the FTC in 2022, nearly 70,000 people reported falling victim to a romance scam, with reported losses totaling a staggering $1.3 billion.
Cybercriminals use sextortion to blackmail individuals for money or favors in exchange for not exposing their sexual content. Such data can be obtained using various channels; from hacked email accounts to planting malware inside an innocent-looking file, to using impersonation and social engineering tactics to trick people into willingly sharing it. “Revenge porn” is another common practice of sextortion. Studies show that younger people are more prone, with victims aged 18-29 over six times more likely to report sextortion than those 30 and over. In 2022, 58% of sextortion reports involved social media, with Instagram and Snapchat being the most common platforms.
Love in practice: Two cents from a cyberdating veteran
- Use anti-malware tools to scan files, pictures, or videos provided by a potential romantic partner. These files could contain hidden malware.
- Always use discretion, common sense, and good judgment. If it’s too good to be true- it’s not true.
- Chat is great to exchange information – but if the partner on the other side seems overly avid to get sensitive information, or asks many questions over a short amount of time, it should raise some concerns.
- Does your loved one combine romance with any sort of cryptocurrency deal? It’s time to move in a different direction.
- The American Federal Trade Commission also has a few useful tips and common practices to alert of:
- Nobody legit will ever ask you to help—or insist that you invest— by sending cryptocurrency, giving the numbers on a gift card, or wiring money. Anyone who does is a scammer.
- If someone tells you to send money to receive a package, you can bet it’s a scam.
Broken Heart Recovery
According to the FBI, If you are a victim of a confidence/romance scam, they recommend taking the following actions:
- Report the activity to the Internet Crime Complaint Center, your local FBI field office, or both. Contact IC3 at ic3.gov. Local FBI field offices can be found online at www.fbi.gov/contact-us/field.
- Contact your financial institution immediately upon discovering any fraudulent or suspicious activity and direct them to stop or reverse the transactions.
- Ask your financial institution to contact the corresponding financial institution where the fraudulent or suspicious transfer was sent.
- Report the activity to the website where the contact was first initiated.
Spread love – not blank checks
Most people are genuinely looking for a life partner and dating apps do help people to find their soulmate. Don’t let the fears of the next Tinder Swindler, hackers, fraud monsters, and other people with malicious intent draw you back. Listen to your gut and use every available tool that can be found online to ensure your first date wouldn’t break your heart and your wallet.
Peace and Love to you and your digital self.