By Edlyn Cardoza
February 15, 2022
- Digital Attacks
With multiple offers on Valentine’s Day flashing on the web, fraudsters have been up and about scamming couples for gifts, holiday packages, etc. Scammers aren’t set to steal hearts but bank account balances.
According to experts, Valentine’s Day-related spam always sees a spike in the first week of February. Like scam emails received during Christmas or around heavy shopping holidays, scammers during V-Day usually look to steal login credentials for email, social media accounts, or credit card information.
Ahead of Valentine’s Day, Lloyds and TSB had separately released new research, showing that romance fraud losses nearly doubled during the pandemic, increasing 91%. It shows:
- 16% increase in victims of romance fraud, and the average amount lost per victim is now £8,655 (Lloyds)
- The average ‘relationship’ sees victims of romance fraud making payments for two months (62 days) – and over a third of all cases start on Facebook (TSB)
- While over 45s are most at risk of romance scams, an average of £2,128 was lost by victims aged between 18 and 24 and £3,193 lost by people aged 25 to 34 (Lloyds)
- Banks are often footing the bill, TSB has refunded 97% of all bank fraud cases under its Fraud Refund Guarantee (TSB)
Martin Wilson, CEO of Digital Identity Net, said, “Romance scams are becoming increasingly a commonplace with fraudsters targeting vulnerable people online, stealing hearts and emptying wallets. Across the banking industry in the UK, romance fraud nearly doubled during the pandemic with losses increasing 91% and the average amount lost per victim has grown to £8,655. At the heart of this type of fraud is people creating unverified, fake social media accounts or stealing real people’s identities before swindling money from unsuspecting victims.”
Here are 3 ways fraudsters conned people on Valentine’s Day 2022:
- Constant request for money
These scams usually occur with the hundreds of people navigating over apps such as Facebook, Bumble, Tinder, Grindr, or Hinge. In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, you will come across individuals who will scam their way from your heart to your wallet.
It may seem obvious to avoid giving money to people you have just met or have met on the internet and don’t know them in person. Avoid giving out any personal information, including any simple details – it could cost you money.
Multiple times, people have sent out online forms, which ask details such as, “what’s your favourite ice cream” “the name of your first pet”, etc. Most of these are security questions chosen to keep your bank account safe. BBB says that these romance scams can lead to the creation of fake flower shops, imposter websites, and so on.
According to The Irish Time, there were eighty incidents of “romance scams” in the North last year — almost seven every month — including one woman who was conned out of £130,000, according to the police.
Phishing campaigns often coincide with the holiday shopping seasons of the year, and Valentine’s Day is no exception to this threat. Scammers send out phishing emails surrounding Valentine’s Day every V-Day and are usually aimed at hasty gift buyers.
According to @FBIBaltimore Angie Kennard’s father fell victim to a romance scam — and was conned out of over $700,000.
A phishing email is a recurring threat due to many people shopping online. Suppose you receive an email offering a special V-Day gift such as chocolates, jewellery, or whatever it may be, be careful. It might be a phishing attempt, and it is best at this point to avoid clicking on any links mentioned in the email.
But phishing scams don’t only happen pre-shopping, and it also occurs after placing an order, where the phishing scam mentions delivery issues. But this is just an attempt to make you panic – and take measures without thinking.
- Social Media Shopping Scam
According to the FTC reports, last year, social media shopping scams increased sharply. Shoppers need to be extra careful while shopping on Instagram or Facebook.
FTC says, “In nearly 70% of these reports, people said they placed an order, usually after seeing an ad, but never got the merchandise. Some reports even described ads that impersonated real online retailers that drove people to lookalike websites. When people identified a specific social media platform in their reports of undelivered goods, nearly 9 out of 10 named Facebook or Instagram”.
In such cases, it is necessary to use a refundable, safe form of payment to avoid any hassle of being scammed and losing out on your own money.
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