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The Internet's various dating websites have brought together many soul mates. However, it is important to be cautious because there are more dangerous threats than cupid's arrows.
Unfortunately, cybercriminals have been known to prey upon those looking for love. If you are not careful, your desire to meet your certain mate could cause you financial or even physical harm.
"All fraud is destructive but dating scammers are particularly ruthless as they abuse the emotional trust and attachments that people invest when looking for someone," Health Clayton, Senior Director of the U.K.'s Office of Fair Trading's Consumer group, said in a Feb. 8 Claims Financial website article.
Before Valentine's Day, the OFT was warning people to be wary of potential scams. An extreme example of an Internet love scam was detailed in the September, 2007 edition of the ParetoLogic newsletter. A 56-year-old Australian farmer was lured to West Africa to meet his bride and collect her gold bar dowry worth $85,000. When he arrived, he was captured by armed bandits. They took his cash and credit cards and threatened to cut off his limbs with a machete if he didn't give them $85,000. When the kidnappers went to collect their ransom they were apprehended by police.
A KFVS TV website article, published Feb. 9, explains the various scams that are common online. One, referred to as the "American scam," is designed to get you to their website, which often contains pornography. In the "Russian scam," the online lover wants you to pay for their trip to see you. Chances are they do not show up! In a popular variation on that tactic, in the "Nigerian scam" the romancer says they are stuck in a country, often helping a sick family member, and they need your money to help them get back home.
ParetoLogic security analyst Jerome Segura said it is important to be careful when looking for love online. The leader of ParetoLogic's Spyware Analysis Team (SWAT) and the author of the Malware Diaries blog offered these tips:
- Never trust a site that came as a pop-up while you were browsing.
- Never click on an ad from a Torrent / Warez / Streaming site.
- Beware of ads about Eastern European women (Russian brides are a well known scam).
- If you sign up for a site, complete a basic profile at first to check it out. Then over time, you can enter more personal information.
- Look around, maybe Lady Luck lives just next door!
In general, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Even if someone online is not looking to take your money, they might not be being completely truthful with you. A Michigan State University research team found that most people lie about at least one characteristic on dating site profiles, according to a Feb. 10 The Times of India website article. The study showed that 52.6 per cent of men and 39 per cent of women lied about their height. As well, 24.3 per cent of men and 13.1 per cent of women put a false age on their profile.
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