HYDERABAD: The buzz around online dating applications, which peaked during the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown, comes with its own risks, warn cybercrime officials.
The recent incident of a woman, who was killed after she met her ‘online boyfriend’ in Uttar Pradesh, and several others falling prey to frauds lurking on such apps has shown its vulnerabilities, said police officials.
An official from Hyderabad cybercrimes wing said that most victims in such scams are married and they refrain from lodging a complaint to avoid social stigma. Usually the amount lost are below `1 lakh and are dealt at the police station level itself, said the official.
K. Srinivas Rao, a cybersecurity expert, said that a lot of online dating applications allow users to share and facilitate unsolicited pictures.
“Without a screenshot policy, such platforms are susceptible to leaking of chats and also let others get the geographical location of the user. There is a dating app which gives a notification every time you cross another user on the app by tracking movements, such advanced levels of security lapse can be a cause of concern,” he warns.
In October, an official from Cherlapalli central prison was targeted by cyberfraudsters and duped of nearly `1 lakh. In August, a student from Turkayamjal lost `98,400 to this scam after the woman started threatening to make the video viral.
In August, Rachakonda cybercrimes police arrested K. Sai Krishna Reddy, an event manager from KPHB for posing as a woman on Instagram and luring men to make a nude video call, which he screen-recorded and used to blackmail and demand money from the victim.
Explaining the most common scam, an official from cybercrimes said that a fraudster usually scours through the user base, looking for a particularly vulnerable and eager user open to emotional manipulation.
“Based on your ‘preference’, they will alter their profile accordingly to connect and lure you in. Usually claiming to be settled abroad, they will chat for weeks and even months to gain trust. However, after making a promise to finally meet in person, they cite a need and help for a last-minute problem such as visa processing fees, an inheritance stuck in customs, an unexpected bankruptcy and so on, to loot money,” he said.
People easily fall victim to such frauds as they are flattered by someone who is showing interest in them while they go through lonely moments in their busy life, said Dr Priyanka Padhi.