It’s important to keep in mind today the fact that heartless con artists use social engineering tactics to trick people looking for love. The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center warns every year that Scammers use poetry, flowers, and other gifts to reel in victims, the entire time declaring their “undying love.”
These hardened criminals – who also troll social media sites and chat rooms in search of romantic casualties – usually claim to be Americans traveling or working abroad. In reality, they often live overseas, and it’s a whole industry with planned criminal campaigns focused on days like this.
The Valentine’s Day Scams Are Plentiful
There are many Valentine’s Day scams, but the most prevalent are phony florists, online dating scams, false Valentine’s Day electronic greeting cards and delivery scams. These days, organized cybercriminals create full malicious florist websites, or send you an email claiming to be from a local florist with a great deal (just click here!) to save big on flowers.
Fake electronic greeting cards can be filled with malware, and if you click on the link to open the card, you will infect your computer or another electronic device with malware that will steal your personal information and use it to make you a victim of identity theft.
Another current Valentine’s Day delivery email scam is about the provision of a gift basket of wine and flowers. However, the person bringing the gift basket requests five dollars or less as a fee to be paid by credit card because alcohol is being delivered. When you fill out the online form, the scammer runs up charges on your credit card.
There are many ways these online criminals try to trick you, but these are the most common. And while a lot of these scams are geared towards a particular victim demographic, anyone who decides to do something special for their significant other could potentially stumble across one of these scams without even realizing it. So, here are the red flags you need to look out for:
- Do not trust emails or advertising from online florists or other gift retailers until you are sure that they are valid. Otherwise, you might be turning over your credit card information to a scammer or infect your computer with malicious software.
- Do not trust an online greeting card, particularly if it does not indicate who sent it to you. Be very wary of a card sent by “a secret admirer.” Even if you recognize the name, confirm that it was actually sent from that person before you click on the link and open the card.
- Do not trust special deliveries. There is no particular charge for alcohol, so if someone requires a credit card payment for such a delivery, just politely decline to know you just dodged a bullet.
- Do not trust anyone who indicates he or she is in love with you and then wants to communicate with you right away on an email account outside of the dating site, claiming to be working abroad, asking for your address, and using poor grammar which is often a sign of a foreign romance scammer. Many romance scams originate in Eastern Europe.
The rule still applies: THINK before you click.