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Expert commentary: Romance scams

February 2023 by Carl Wearn, Head of Threat Intelligence Analysis and Future Ops at Mimecast

As Valentine’s Day approaches, singletons up and down the country will be furiously swiping online in the hopes of finding ‘the one’. However, dating app users need to be aware that all may not be as it seems! Over the past two years, more than 7,000 people in the UK have fallen victim to romance scammers, losing a total of around £65 million. The coment from Carl Wearn, Head of Threat Intelligence Analysis and Future Ops at Mimecast.

“With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, many singletons are at risk of falling victim to sophisticated online scams. Scammers are combining social engineering and multi-channel campaigns by posing as fake personalities online to find and connect with potential victims who are looking for a romantic relationship, before tricking them into giving away valuable information or credentials that can be sold for monetary gain.

This trick is believable enough to gain credibility with targets. Usually, social engineering uses psychological manipulation to trick users into making security mistakes or giving away sensitive information. It is worrying to learn that despite the financial loss and psychological trauma caused by these scams within the digital world, victims are often reluctant to come forward as they feel they will be blamed or accused of being too naïve for being targeted by such fraudsters.

I would urge caution on anyone who is involved in an internet-based relationship to be critically aware that any communication that takes place online – whether via email or dating app – should be heavily scrutinised and double checked for validity before taking any action on it. It is important for people to stay alert to ensure they are not duped. Individuals should try and avoid clicking on any links in electronic messages where they can and navigate ULRs to any websites via a web browser search instead to check the URL authenticity.”

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