Following the news that online dating fraud victim numbers are at a high record, according to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, there were 3,889 victims of so-called romance fraud last year, who handed over a record £39m. IT security experts from Kaspersky Lab and DomainTools commented below.
David Emm, Principal Security Researcher at Kaspersky Lab:
“With the rise of technology came the emergence of various social media platforms and applications designed to make our lives easier and more convenient: for example, online dating apps aiming to help us find companions. However, with our connected culture come great risks, such as identity fraud, harassment and theft. Beyond a handful of pictures, emojis and lighthearted messages, you have very little knowledge of a person’s true intentions or motives when they are positioned behind a social media account or dating profile.
There are steps that Internet daters can take to protect themselves. The first and most obvious measure is not to trust people online automatically. There’s no way to identify someone’s true appearance or motives through the messages they are exchanging with you. Second, and this relates back to the usage of social media, linking your Facebook or Instagram profile with an online dating app can prove to be problematic, especially in the hands of burglars or fraudsters. If you happen to “match” with someone with ill intent, they are able to gain access to your social media pages, which are likely to include addresses, pictures and more personal information. Most importantly remember, once it’s posted it’s public – forever. Always think twice before sharing your private information in these very public ways.”
Tim Helming, Director, Product Management at DomainTools:
“This article describes a perfect example of social engineering. In this case, the theme of the social engineering is a fraudulent romantic entanglement, but the end result –people being defrauded of money, sometimes large sums of it–is the same as with social engineering in a business context, such as via a Business Email Compromise spear phish. While dating sites may be able to take some measures, such as warning users about being asked to send money, it is also incumbent on each and every one of us to be vigilant for social engineering in all of life’s contexts. Especially when being asked to transfer money or sensitive information, it is imperative to verify the authenticity of the request.”