Surprise your Valentine scam

Surprise your Valentine scam

Valentine’s Day (also known as the feast of Saint Valentine) is fast approaching. It comes as no surprise that scammers target Valentine’s Day. These scams can vary from targeting people on dating sites to spam emails preying on people doing last minute Valentine’s Day shopping. Even eCards are being used to lure people to phishing sites. Be especially wary of a few of the below Valentine’s Day scams that have been used on unsuspecting victims.

Dating sites are a very common place where scammers work their schemes. In fact, it is so common that several dating sites have tips on avoiding being scammed. Match is one such site; you can view their tips for avoiding being scammed.

The general story of a dating scam follows a more or less similar plot. A scammer targets someone on a dating site, attempting to make contact. Once the scammer has made contact, they then request money either for a trip to meet up, or to help pay rent, or to assist an elderly relative. Once the money is sent, the scammers will disappear.

One big warning sign is where the person claims to be working overseas. A favourite story told by scammers is that they are deployed overseas. This in particular plays on the emotions of people being targeted.

Another warning sign is if you receive links to a website. Be especially wary of links sent to you; in the past these links have been used to load malware on a PC. The malware installed is often used to steal various items of personal information such as banking details.

Spam emails are another favourite method used by scammers for Valentine’s Day. The emails contain links to malicious sites. These sites often contain malware that is served via a drive-by download. If the malware is downloaded to a victim machine, it can be used to steal personal information such as login ids and banking details. This week we received several Valentine’s Day spam emails; Figure A shows one such sample extracted from our email filter.

MailShark Surprise Your Valentine scam
Figure A – Click to Enlarge

Whilst it looks realistic, this email is a scam. It is a variation on the old theme of complete a survey and win a gift card.

A good resource to check for the various romance scams is the Australian Government site Scam Watch. Here you will find more information on warning signs to watch for, and ways to protect yourself from scams.

Scott Reeves
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