By Shira Landau, Editor-in-Chief, CyberTalk.org
One wrong click to heartache? Valentine’s Day is a serious, seasonal opportunity for scammers.
This Valentine’s Day, red roses, heart-shaped boxes of candies, heart-themed cards, and other popular, expressive, and traditional gifts are expected to collectively account for $26 billion in retail revenue. This reflects a two billion dollar increase over last year’s revenue numbers (for anyone who’s interested). However, florists, chocolatiers and jewelers aren’t the only ones eagerly anticipating extraordinary profits…
Cyber scammers hope to cash in on sealed-with-a-kiss extravagance. In 2020, romance and confidence scams resulted in losses of over $600 million (and many a broken heart). When love is in the air, digital swindlers happily await opportunities to fool the faithful. For the most part, they just want access to a victim’s work computer and corresponding data, which is usually worth a few chic, swoon-worthy diamonds, at least.
As you prepare for a sweet, Cupid-approved kind of day, here’s what to know about cyber scams…
Top 5 Valentine’s Day Cyber Scams
1. Email scams and ad fraud. Check Point Researchers identified a campaign that delivered emails with subject lines such as, “Your Valentine’s Day reward has arrived!” The email senders posed as big name brands, like Ace Hardware or Home Depot, seamlessly incorporating realistic ad fraud graphics into email content. It scarcely merits a mention– the senders were scammers.
2. Imposter websites. In January of this year, 12,441 new domains with the terms “Valentine” or “love” were registered. This reflects a 54% increase in this type of domain registration, as compared with the prior three months. Among the recently registered domains, roughly 10% were deemed potentially dangerous.
3. Romance scams. Romance scams occur when cyber criminals deceive victims into believing that they are in a trusting relationship. The criminals then leverage the relationship to cajole victims into sending money, or providing sensitive information. Avoid getting caught in a bad romance – Don’t allow your secret admirer to become a secret scammer.
4. Chatbot scams. According to cyber security researchers, chatbots can be used to impersonate potential romantic partners, leading people to believe that they are in a loving, trusting and everlasting online relationship. The chatbot may make demands for money or sensitive information -including corporate details- under false pretenses.
5. Greeting card scams. How else could heart-warming turn into heart-wrenching? Chatbots can be programmed to send automated ‘Happy Valentines Day’ messages that appear to be from friends or family members. Such messages commonly contain malicious links that install malware or that otherwise manage to disturb the recipient’s device.
Prevent cyber crime
This Valentine’s Day, prevent cyber crime.
- Review phishing prevention best practices
- Don’t reply to scammers, click on potentially malicious links or open attachments
- Delete suspicious emails and review email security tips
Love hurts, especially when it’s a scam. Avoid an unhappy Valentine’s Day and help your friends and family do the same by sharing this article.
If you accidentally fall for a scam, report the activity here (if in the U.S.) and/or contact your financial institution if you discover fraudulent or suspicious transactions.
If you’d like more Valentine’s Day cyber security statistics, please click here. Lastly, to receive cutting-edge cyber security news, best practices and resources in your inbox each week, please sign up for the CyberTalk.org newsletter.