Lax attitude making public easy prey in love scams | #datingscams | #lovescams | #facebookscams

PETALING JAYA: Cybersecurity experts say many Malaysians are gullible and tend to believe anything they see online, making them easy prey for scammers.

The experts have raised concerns that such naivety may lead to more cases like a recent one in Ipoh where a 64-year-old woman lost RM5.29 million in a love scam.

Universiti Sains Malaysia Assoc Prof Dr Selvakumar Manickam said people prefer online dating apps as such platforms are more casual and convenient, compared with matrimony websites that only focus on marriages.

Selvakumar said the main factor behind the rise in online love scams is people’s attitudes that prioritise convenience over the need to protect their security and privacy, which often results in monetary losses.

“Matrimonial sites are used by someone who proactively seeks suitors based on a set criteria for matches, which is meant to reliably find a life partner since most sites have implemented stringent verification processes and other security or privacy mechanisms.

“But online dating sites are for relationships without any strings attached. And when users publicly share their details, scammers can use the data to victimise the user,” he told theSun.

He added that the reason such crimes are so prevalent is due to victims’ lack of awareness and the ability of scammers to leverage online dating sites to hunt for easy victims, especially those who are wealthy, single and lonely.

“Online scammers are skilled at employing psychology and social engineering techniques to determine how weak and vulnerable the victim is.

“My advice is to check their profiles, names, location and photos. Most importantly, if the account is relatively new and does not have many friends, it is not very trustworthy.

“On messaging apps, an account without a phone number is dubious. Check if the person’s topic of conversation is something you shared online. If the person avoids meeting physically or declines a video call, this must raise a red flag,” he said.

Meanwhile, LGMS Berhad chairman and cybersecurity expert Fong Choong Fook said love scams on dating websites usually follow the same pattern where scammers try to impress victims with romantic approaches and marriage proposals.

He said victims who fall into their trap may not hesitate to provide financial assistance since the scammers have managed to build trust in a very short time.

“Scammers usually get in touch with a victim to start a casual relationship first and will entice her (the victim) by saying he is coming to visit her and may send some gifts or propose marriage.

“Upon obtaining their trust, the scammer will usually say that he is in some kind of financial trouble and needs the victim’s support.

“The victim will naturally help him to get what she was promised by the scammer.”

Fong said the public must take responsibility to protect their privacy and money since scams are common on social media, especially on Facebook dating apps, where numerous fake profiles exist.

“If you haven’t met someone physically or even if you have met the person, it’s not a good sign when he asks for financial help. When meeting someone online, check his or her profile pictures and do a reverse image search on the profile picture to see whether it has appeared elsewhere.”

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