With thousands (if not millions) of people getting into the digital and online economy every single day, it is not surprising to see the rise in cybercrimes as well. Scams, frauds, and hacks have victimized internet users by the thousands every year, making everyone susceptible, even those who don’t consider themselves as risky.
There are victims of extortion, where cybercriminals take money or other material objects from their victims who they have coerced. Extortionists online can employ methods such as ransomware, bomb threats, and even sextortion conditions.
There are also victims of phishing scams that have not only taken the form of emails but also SMS and instant messages. The scammers usually pretend to be established and legitimate business and persuade customers to make their account information updated. Of course, when updates are done, personal information is provided.
Finally, there is a rise in what has been termed as love scams. In these online dating scenarios, virtual relationships blossom between a fraudster and the unsuspecting victim. Armed only with a fake profile on one or more dating sites, these scammers earn their victims’ trust and before they know it, the latter would already get swindled to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars. Let’s look deeper into this and see if there are any solutions.
How do romance scams begin?
Here’s the deal: According to the Better Business Bureau, victims of online romance scams in the US and Canada have lost more than $1 billion. What’s worse, because of embarrassment and other personal reasons, victims tend to not report these scams. As a result, cybercriminals get more emboldened, gathering more victims who they scam hundreds of dollars until everything piles up and they end up getting thousands.
Romance scammers use dating websites, apps, Facebook, and other social media. Many use stolen credit cards to join the sites and post fake profiles. They meet victims, interact with them, and quickly try to get them to move to a different form communication such as email or texting. This way, if the dating site identifies the scammer as being bogus and shuts them down, they are already in contact with their victims elsewhere. The scammers will often make fake Facebook pages for their aliases to help bolster their fake identity.
Are senior citizens at the most risk?
Here’s an extreme case: an elderly (80 years old, to be exact) widower in Oregon lost $200,000 to an online romance scam. That’s how grave these situations can go.
The elaborate con job started with an unidentified person stealing a Florida’s woman identity, the Oregon Division of Financial Regulation said in a statement. The scammer then used the stolen identity to befriend the 80-year-old widower through an online dating service, and worked to steal his heart and his money.
How romance scammers work
So, how do …