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Don't get scammed on a dating app this Valentines!

15th November 2022
It’s almost here – the day for couples to show how much they love each other, and for some, that last minute jog down to the petrol station to buy the best of the worst bunch of flowers. Sadly, Valentines day is also a busy time for cybercriminals, as they start setting up fake profiles in attempts to form fake relationships, with the end goal of stealing your money, or infecting your device with malware.

I’m too clever to get scammed

That’s what everyone thinks before they get scammed, but picture the scene – it’s coming up to Valentines, everywhere you look you’re being reminded that finding love is the only way you can be happy.

You feel vulnerable and lonely, so you download a dating app, get chatting to someone who’s good-looking, says all the right things, and even promises to meet up with you on Valentine’s Day – suddenly, you’re hooked.

Although usually slightly more contrived, this is the typical way these scammers work, by gaining your trust at vulnerable times, then gradually laying the foundations to carry out their scam, whether that’s to steal your money, or in many cases, get you to download malware onto your device.

What should you look out for?

There are various ways that scammers will try to gain your trust on dating apps, but here are some of the common things to look out for –

• They're moving too fast -

It’s lovely when ‘you just know’, and romance quickly develops into a relationship, but on dating apps, this is usually a red flag to avoid. If someone starts asking all sorts of ‘too personal’ questions, or declares their undying love fifteen minutes into a chat, you’re probably taking to a scammer, so block, block, block.

They have a dull profile –

OK, to be fair, even genuine people can have dull profiles on dating apps, but scammers also produce dull profiles, because they don’t generally have the time or desire to do anything different. So, make sure to check the detail of your potential dates profile before trusting them. Check for spelling mistakes, inconsistencies in language, and, if it looks like it was created in a rush, don’t take the chance.

Their photo is questionable –

On dating apps, our first impressions are usually decided as the result of seeing a photo. But, if the photo looks ‘too good’, and like it was taken in a studio, be very cautious, as no scammer worth their salt is going to use a real photo, and will often use stock photos.

They’re avoiding questions –

Flirty conversations should be two way – they ask a question, you ask a question. But, if during your chat you feel they’re avoiding answering any of your questions, or giving you very vague, robotic answers, there’s a good chance they’re a scammer, so move on.

They ask for money –

Yep, this is the big red flag. If your potential Valentine starts mentioning financial problems, be instantly on your guard, no matter how genuine they sound. This is a typical tactic of a scammer, where they gain your trust, play the sympathy card, then start asking you to send them a little bit of money at a time, until they’re ready to start demanding a lot more. Just don’t do it!

They won’t meet you –

In general, scammers have no intention of meeting up for that coffee. They simply want to sit behind their computer screen, abusing the trust of whoever they can. So, if that gorgeous human being refuses to meet up, or constantly lets you down at the last minute, block all contact, get back on the app and try again.

Ways to avoid the Valentines scam

So now you know a few red flags to look out for, here are 5 ways to avoid getting scammed this Valentines –

1- Do a reverse image search –

This is a tactic you can use if the photo on the dating app doesn’t look real. Either visit Tin Eye or use Googles Reverse Image Search, then copy and upload the suspicious photo and you’ll be able to its history, and work out if it’s a stock photo or a genuine photo.

2- Don’t reveal personal stuff –

Remember you used your children’s names and pet’s names for passwords (rightly or wrongly)? These and many other personal details, like your address and your favourite football team etc., are like gold to most scammers, so keep personal stuff personal.

3- Use a different email –

When online dating, use a separate email to your usual personal or business email. This helps to keep the divide between your real life and online dating life, and it also gives you a way to cut contact should things get weird.

4- Don’t share revealing photos –

Yes, we’re talking about those photos. Problem is, scammers may use them to blackmail you when you decide not to ‘play ball’.

5- Trust your instincts –

It’s easy to ignore that little voice in your head when you’re having a good old flirt, but if your instinct tells you somethings not right, trust it, and end the conversation asap.

And if you do get scammed this Valentines…

Contact Action Fraud at www.actionfraud.police.uk

JamCrackers is one of Bedfordshire's leading Cyber Security specialists. Visit www.jamcrackers.co.uk to get your free cyber security audit.