Holidays are actually not bank holidays for cyber villains. In other words, what normal people consider as holidays, i.e., days when they do not have to work, for cyber criminals could be the busiest working days. And, it is not any different when Valentine's Day is coming. Obviously, this is a holiday that affects hundreds of millions of people who try to express their love to their better half all condensed into one single day. It is also clear that all these lovers in the world spend most of January and the first half of February to look for all kinds of surprises; and, most of them use the Internet to do so. It is only logical that cyber criminals spend this period figuring out ways to scam these blindly loving people. So, let us tell you how they can harm you and what you should do to avoid such scams.
FBI statistics of 2016 show that the reported cases of such "romance scams" reached $230 million in loss. Imagine how much this amount could have been including those who never reported such scams. It could be vital to your security to learn how these scammers may attack and what kinds of platforms they may use to scam you and take your money.
It should be quite obvious that cyber crooks will target dating websites since there are lots of people looking for love at this time of the year not wanting to spend the artificially hyped Valentine's Day alone. This causes tension in a lot of users who will stick to the virtual channels to find that long-wanted love. Be very cautious whenever making connections online through such websites. Always double-check on the other person on other forums and sites, such as Facebook. It is always risky to get to know someone virtually simply based on written profile information or by chatting with them. It is already a bit better when you can have a face to face talk on Skype, Viber, or Messenger. Still, there is always a chance that scammers just try to get close to you. Of course, it is not our goal to create panic or fear. These are simple facts that we should always consider to be on the safe side.
There are lots of fake and suspicious dating websites, too, including WordsOfHearts.com. This website, for example, is considered as a phishing scam since all it really wants is to get your password. How? This site offers you to get you in contact with people of the opposite sex (or whatever your preference is) who has the same password as you do. Sounds scary? Well, we certainly think it is a bad idea to reveal your password to such sites and schemers if you use the same for all your other accounts.
You may also receive an e-mail from a dating website or a person who appears to be interested in meeting you during this period before and after Valentine's Day. Again, you need to be extra cautious with these. Our researchers say that Necurs, one of the most famous botnets that is still active, started a spamming campaign in mid-January that pretends to be about Russian women trying to find love in the US. The strange thing about these spam e-mails is that they usually ask you to contact them using a different e-mail address than the sender address. In these cases, you could be asked to send photos of you, and later you could be blackmailed or simply asked to pay money for a made-up reason. This time Necurs is not used to deliver dangerous ransomware threats, instead, hundreds of millions such love mails. So, beware of these suspicious mails and do your search before contacting anyone you get to know this way.
Yet another possibility for scammers to fool you is via fake Valentine's Day gift cards, shopping offers, or discount coupons. These can hide malicious content or simply redirect you to malicious websites where you could be scammed, and, as a result, you could lose money from your bank account. But you may also be exposed to malicious URLs, fake content, or suspicious ads on e-card websites. Only use reputable ones if you so want to send an e-card to your love. Last but not least, you should also beware of spam e-mails that pretend to be a fake receipt, invoice, or parcel delivery error asking to confirm your credit card details or other sensitive information. Once cyber criminals get hold of your credit card details, they can go on an online shopping spree and you could be poorer a few hundred or thousand bucks. Do not fall for such tricks because you may pay dearly for such a mistake.
Apart from being more careful around your e-mails, dating and e-card websites, you should also apply the same vigilance when it comes to social networking sites (e.g., Facebook) because these also provide crooks with a great platform to infect unsuspecting users through all kinds of fake video or image content. All in all, we can say that if you do not feel effective enough when it comes to defending your system security, we advise you to protect your PC with a reliable up-to-date anti-malware program, such as SpyHunter. In addition to installing security software, you should also keep all your programs updated to prevent cyber criminals from gaining access to your computer by exploiting outdated software bugs.