Customers ask AI for help in love, but deepfakes and AI supercharge fraud threat #nigeria | #nigeriascams | #lovescams

Digital ID and AI-assisted identity tools are typically designed to solve complex problems, and what problem is more complex than the wiles of the human heart? The world of online dating has proven to be a gold mine for fraudsters who use romance scams to manipulate and sometimes blackmail the lovelorn and vulnerable. Now, as deepfake technology reaches new levels of efficiency and realism, many online daters are considering AI as a tool to help navigate an increasingly fervid world of scams – and even to serve as a dating coach.

ThreatFabric says a quarter of impersonation scams are romance scams

A blog series from ThreatFabric delves into the nuts and bolts of romance scams, and explores potential solutions. The Amsterdam-based fraud detection firm’s research shows that over a quarter of impersonation scams are romance scams. Typically, these involve a person who is coaxed into believing a relationship is genuine, then tricked or forced into surrendering money or personal information. Statistics from Moscow-headquartered cybersecurity software firm Kaspersky show that 42 percent of online dating users have encountered scams on dating apps.

The evolving language around these threats is illustrative of the speed at which new tactics are emerging. Catfishing is now familiar from popular media, and research from Norton shows that nearly a third of people using dating apps have been catfished. So-called pig butchering scams may start as romance scams, before morphing into investment scams. Deepfake video tools have given rise to “Yahoo Boys,” a loose collective of scammers in Nigeria that a report from Wired says uses AI face-swapping in real-time video calls to ensnare victims in romance scams – the latest and greatest version of the infamous Nigerian prince email phishing scams of yore.

As with any identity-based transaction, tools exist that can mitigate the damage. ThreatFabric outlines what it calls its “Fraud Kill Chain,” which integrates customer journey visibility and in-channel behavioral biometrics for fraud detection. The system can be deployed against romance scams or investment scams, to monitor all user interactions happening between login and transactions.

The consequences of romance scams go far beyond compromised accounts. ThreatFabric points out that they can result in “broken hearts, lost confidence and stolen money.” The UK government has just released a report on the social and psychological implications of fraud, wish shows that, “in addition to financial loss, fraud can cause emotional, psychological and health impacts, and can harm people’s relationships.”

“Victims of romance fraud can experience a ‘double hit’, where they lose their money and their relationship,” says the report. “Romance fraud victims also often experience a lack of understanding from family, friends and others.”

Love at first byte: users want AI to help them find love

Poor, miserable, unable to rely on friends and family: what are broken hearts to do? Cue the era of the love robot. (No, not that kind.) According to Gen’s 2024 Norton Cyber Safety Insights Report Special Release: Online Dating, 64 percent of current online daters would use AI as a dating coach. Per the report, “of those who are currently using an online dating app or service, 71 percent of people are interested in using AI to write pick up lines and conversation starters, 70 percent for dating app profile development and 64 percent for photo enhancement.

To protect against romance scams, which Norton found had increased by 72 percent since 2023, users will need to be increasingly vigilant and aware of options to increase the assurance provided by identity verification and biometric authentication, like combining liveness detection with selfie biometrics.

“Online dating is notoriously difficult to navigate and using AI as a dating coach seems innocuous when you’re on the receiving end of a bad pickup line or trying to draft a thoughtful breakup text,” says Leyla Bilge, director of Scam Research Labs for Norton, in a release. “However, AI technology can also make online dating riskier and more complicated. Romance scams aren’t new, but AI is changing the game and making these types of scams more common and much harder to spot. People need to stay vigilant for signs of romance scams such as individuals who avoid video or phone calls, have very few images on their dating profiles or attempt to progress the relationship quickly.”

Article Topics

biometric liveness detection  |  deepfakes  |  fraud prevention  |  identity verification  |  online dating  |  selfie biometrics  |  ThreatFabric

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