Have you tried online dating? There are many happy couples who attribute their love to the matchmaking algorithm of an online website. Internet dating is a legitimate option for modern singles, but like most good things on the web, naive users run a risk of getting scammed.
How to Spot an Online Dating Scam
To help you better understand what an online dating scam looks like, here are eight steps of a common online dating scam provided by Hoax-Slayer.com.
- A person registers at an online dating service and creates a profile. The profile will include information, and possibly a photograph, of the person along with a way for interested people to make contact.
- In due course, a scammer contacts the person posing as someone interested in exploring a possible romantic relationship.
- The victim responds and the pair begins corresponding regularly. They may soon bypass the dating service contact system and start communicating directly, usually via email.
- Over time, the scammer will slowly earn the trust of the victim. He or she may discuss family, jobs and other details designed to make the correspondent seem like a real person who is genuinely interested in the victim. Photographs may be exchanged. However, the “person” that the victim thinks he or she is corresponding with, is likely to be purely an invention of the scammer. Photographs may not even show the real sender. The victim’s apparent love interest may look completely different to the person in the photograph and, in reality, may not even be the same gender.
- After the scammer has established the illusion of a genuine and meaningful relationship, he or she will begin asking the victim for money. For example, the scammer may claim that he or she wants to meet in person and ask the victim to send money for an airfare so that a meeting can take place. Or the scammer may claim that there has been a family medical emergency and request financial assistance. The scammer may use a variety of excuses to entice the victim to send funds.
- If the victim complies and sends money, he or she will probably receive further such requests. With his or her judgement clouded by a burgeoning love for the scammer’s imaginary character, he or she may continue to send money.
- Finally, the victim will come to realize that he or she has been duped, perhaps after waiting fruitlessly at the airport for a “lover” who, will of course, never arrive.
- Meanwhile, the scammer pockets the money and moves on to the next victim. In fact, the scammer may be stringing along several victims simultaneously.
Why Businesses Should Be Mindful of Online Dating Scams
If you’re in a happy relationship and not playing the dating game, then you may think that you’re safe from Internet dating scams. However, if your company employs singles (or cheaters) that are accessing dating websites while at work via their personal mobile devices (BYOD), or even from their company-issued workstations, then your network’s data can fall prey to scammers if proper protection isn’t used.
Keep in mind that there are a variety of scammers on the web that use different tactics and have different goals. In our example from Hoax-Slayer, the scammer is stringing someone along with the intention of conning them. This is an approach that requires direct communication between the scammer and their victim, often by means of “catfishing.” However, there are other hackers and scammers that have bigger goals in mind than just breaking a heart and stealing a few bucks. Your business needs to be weary of getting scammed from both con artists with fake online profiles, and hackers using fake dating websites to spread malware.
Keep Your Personal Love Letters and Your Work Memos Separate
An employee may compromise your security by using their work email to create an online account at one of these sketchy dating websites. This could lead to their email account being breached, giving the hacker access to any sensitive, business-related correspondence. A breached company account could include data like company financial records or client contact information. As a general rule, an employee’s work email address should never be used to create an account from a third-party website that’s personal in nature. This is common sense, but you would be surprised at the number of workers that ignore this guideline.
Don’t Date an Extortionist
There’s even potential for corporate espionage from dating websites. What if a competitor was using a fake romance to get sensitive information from one of your lonely employees? Or worse, what if an employee is using an online dating website to cheat on their partner? If their cheating ways were discovered by a competitor, they could blackmail a worker into giving up company secrets.
This blackmail tactic is actually used to steal secrets from government workers, and it’s not beyond the realm of possibilities that a competitor could try to target one of your employees through a dating website, or even yourself. As a business owner, you’ve got a big hacking target on your back, and dating websites are just one of the many ways scammers can target your personal information–a hacking tactic known as spear-phishing.
Online dating is a perfectly acceptable way to meet people, but there’s no excuse for your business having poor network security. For help implementing a mobile device strategy that protects your organization from a bad romance with a hacker, call Michell Consulting Group today at 305.592.5433 ext.2601.