The FBI and major IT security companies have published advisories to warn Internet users of the scams making the rounds before and on Valentine’s Day.
In its advisory, the FBI focuses on online dating scams. The agency says that women over 40 who are divorced, widowed or disabled are the most common targets. However, every age group and demographic could fall victim to such schemes.
There are some signs that can tip off potential victims before it’s too late. The scammers don’t waste any time, so they claim to be in love almost instantly. They press their victims to leave the dating website where they’ve met and communicate via email or instant messaging services.
The photographs sent by the con artists usually look like they’re from a glamour magazine. The crooks usually claim to be from the United States, but they’re traveling or working abroad.
The most important clue is that they always ask for money. The money is needed for various reasons, and they usually have a good story.
Avira provides some more general advice regarding Valentine’s Day scams. In addition to online dating scams, the IT security firm warns users of offers that look too good to be true, shady online stores, and oversharing.
Here’s an interesting piece of advice from Avira Security Expert Sorin Mustaca in case you want to research your potential valentine online:
“Let’s say that you just met someone and want to know more about her/him. Of course, the best place to start is Facebook or her/his favorite social network. Be sure that you are looking at the right person. If you don’t and engage a communication with her/him without being sure that you are talking to the right person, you might be reported as a stalker. And if you don’t communicate, you might buy the wrong present.”
E-card scams and Valentine’s Day-themed phishing attacks are detailed in the alert published by BullGuard.