Millions of people around the world use so-called apps and dating sites dating platformsto find their soul mate, but unfortunately very often what they find is not love but sentimental scams of various kinds.
Criminals, in fact, exploit these services because they are aware that focusing on those who sign up for a dating service in search of interpersonal links is a factor to take advantage of to easily achieve their malicious goals (pursuing or blackmail and steal not only money). but also data and identity) as it is fundamentally willing to open and disclose personal information.
Dating scams: modus operandi and common elements
Although different from each other, scams perpetrated on dating platforms show some common elements:
- they base their work on the persuasive abilities of the perpetrators and the consequent reactions of the victims, according to the development of specific scripts based on the interactions between the scammer and the deceived potential. By infiltrating dating platforms on scammer they establish a relationship with their victims by feigning a hypothetical true love;
- it all starts with the so-called “match” (I like) by the scammer’s profile;
- the scammer, after crossing the target profile, starts a conversation trying to switch to other messaging applications;
- the flattering scammer tries to establish a certain emotional dependence, building a virtual relationship, and then, at the right time, perpetrates the deception without any hesitation in exploiting the loneliness and emotional values of the victim (tries to blackmail with compromised photos and videos and send and send emails with malicious attachments or redirecting to web pages phishing). Whatever the modalities, the blow if it strikes usually entails not only economic damage but also sentimental damage;
- the false male profile usually corresponds to that of a distinguished person with a prestigious job and training and residing abroad, while the false female profile often corresponds to that of foreign women seeking financial / sentimental support, beautiful in the photos , unemployed or in a precarious profession. .
Online scams: the most common, how to recognize them and tips to defend yourself
Fake profiles and catfishing
Those who frequent social media and online dating platforms may fall into the trap of cat fishing, through which scammers use fictitious identities or steal from real public profiles and accompanied by photographs and personal datain order to strike for illegal purposes.
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In doubtful cases, in order to verify the identity of the known persons in advance, the interested party could, for example, do a web search for images or, alternatively or jointly, use online services that allow a certain photograph, taken from the profile of the interlocutor. detect any anomalous match on different social networks.
Extortion dating scams: sextortion and porn revenge
Many conversations that take place in private chats, where they often confide their innermost feelings, can become a real blackmail for users, if they share videos and photos superficially.
All material, voluntarily delivered to the alleged suitor, could be used by him for humiliation or revenge (revenge porn) or for the purpose of extortion by entering into actual sexual blackmail (sextortion).
Fake offers to buy cryptocurrencies
Sometimes, taking advantage of the victim’s sentimental / romantic interest, enough to lower his guard in the face of this type of scam, the attacker could try to convince her to sign up for cryptocurrency exchange platforms by also offering the your support throughout the process. .
In fact, all the money deposited in virtual wallets will be given to the impostors.
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Other for-profit love scams
Always relying on the sentimental aspect, the perpetrators of dating scams can, once they have earned the trust of the victim, simulate scenarios of alleged inheritance, easy earnings, job offers that provide for the advance payment of commissions , or, with daily annoyance, try to convince. to the victims to lend them money for different reasons (because they were robbed, detained or to maintain expensive care of sick relatives).
Obviously, after payment in foreign bank accounts, the contacts are interrupted.
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How To Protect Yourself From Dating Scams
While apps and industry sites like Tinder and Meetic (to name a few) seemed to be the preferred means of setting up these online scams so far, the launch of Facebook Dating has provided one more arrow to the cybercrime arc.
In fact, by breaking the modesty and hesitation to subscribe to services explicitly dedicated to dating (subscribing to the integrated Facebook service guarantees a certain privacy with a profile separate from the main one), tens of millions of users, unaware of the risk of sentimental deception, in fact, ended up increasing the number of users exposed to these possible types of scams.
Therefore, some common sense tips are always valid:
- Always check the privacy settings of your accounts to ensure that sensitive data (home, workplace, phone contacts) is not made public, and as a result can be extrapolated from your social profiles. To reduce the threat of doxing practice, you can do some web-based checks by trying to see through search engines whether our data is available on the web without our knowledge;
- try to use the messaging platforms built into dating services, until you’re really sure you can trust the other person and possibly transfer your conversations to other chats;
- never pay and distrust those who immediately declare their willingness to establish a romantic relationship and a virtual relationship.
Report to avoid other victims
If you have to end up with the t-shirts of a scam by attending online dating sites and applications, it would always be advisable, to avoid someone else, to report it to the Postal Police by going to the station offices. distributed premises. throughout the country and / or inform the PS Commissariat of the facts ascertained, in order to verify their illegality, through the relative. web counter service.
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