Online romance scams on the rise since 2020 – Kaspersky – Back End News

According to cybersecurity solutions company Kaspersky, romance scams have been on the rise since 2020, when the pandemic first hit the world. With limited physical travel, the internet, especially social media platforms, has provided an essential connection for people.

Kaspersky’s own research reveals that more than half (53%) of social media users globally used social media more during local and national shutdowns than before.

The same research also found that 18% of the 1,007 adults surveyed to represent South East Asia (SEA) use social media primarily to find romance and the majority (76%) confirm that social media provided them with a vital connection during the global health emergency.

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Additionally, almost a quarter (24%) of SEA respondents said they had formed real, in-person friendships with people they initially met on social media, while 18% admitted to dating someone they met on these platforms.

Romance scams

“This flourishing way of finding a partner, however, also carries emotional and financial risks,” Kaspersky said.

In 2021, law enforcement in Singapore and Malaysia worked together to track down a group specializing in romance scams. The union is said to have been behind at least eight scams in the two countries, including the case of a 41-year-old Singaporean woman who ended up losing a total of $28,000.

Another Kaspersky study “Mapping a Secure Pathway for the Future of Digital Payments in APAC” found that almost one in two (45%) in Southeast Asia (SEA) lost money due to online romance scams.

Most incidents here are only under $100 (22%). However, it should be noted that the age of the victim and the possible cost of a romance scam seem to overlap. With losses under $100, the two oldest generations (Baby Boomer and Silent Generation) recorded the highest percentage, both at 33%.

The oldest age group, on the other hand, lost the most with nearly two in five of them admitting to losing $5,000 to $10,000 to online romance scams.

A small portion (8%) of Gen Z said cybercriminals incurred more than $10,000 from romance-related threats.

Regardless of platform or app, warning signs of online dating scams include:

  • Demonstration of strong emotions in a very short time.
  • A quick switch from dating sites or apps to private channels.
  • The scammer asks you a lot of questions about yourself. Indeed, the more they know about you, the easier you will be to manipulate.
  • Their story is inconsistent. Scammers sometimes operate as a team, with different people hiding behind the same identity. So if the person you’re talking to seems inconsistent, beware.
  • They don’t have a digital fingerprint. Although some people don’t use social media and try to minimize the amount of personal information about them on the internet, it can be suspicious to find no trace of someone online.
  • No video calls or face-to-face meetings. People who are scammed usually report that the other person constantly made excuses to avoid going in front of the camera. The obvious reason is that they don’t look like the person in their profile picture. They also want to avoid being identified to avoid being hunted down afterwards.
  • Requests for money based on personal hardship, for example, for a sick relative or a bankrupt business.

How to Avoid Online Dating Scams

  • Avoiding romance scams means carefully examining any online relationship that develops too quickly. Here are some other ways to protect your heart and wallet:
  • When using social media sites, do not accept friend requests from people you do not know.
  • Avoid revealing too much personal information in a dating profile or to someone you’ve only chatted with online.
  • Take things slowly. Ask your potential partner questions and watch out for inconsistencies that could reveal an impostor.
  • Use reputable dating sites and keep communicating through their messaging service. Fraudsters will want you to quickly switch to texting, social media, or the phone, so there’s no evidence on the dating site that they’re asking you for money.
  • Never give someone money unless you also have a relationship with them offline.
  • If you’re meeting someone outside of cyberspace, be sure to let people around you know where you’ll be, just to be on the safe side.

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