E-Romance sites promise to help find you love, but you can end up with more than you bargained for. No, I’m not expounding the perils of heartbreak and love-loss. I’m talking about the threat of online scams on e-romance websites, and how to protect you from these attacks.
Unlike malware, many e-romance scans come in the old-fashioned variety. Scammers target individuals and slowly con money out of them. Most scammers on e-romance websites have a target in mind: those over 40, widowed, and living alone, although anyone can be subject to one of these cons.
Scams overwhelmingly originate overseas in poorer foreign countries. Con men (and women) reach out to their victims via email, Facebook, or other means and attempt to develop trust and their relationship with their target. Once they have the mark invested, the con is on. Scammers ask for money for their business, to travel to meet their new love, and for medical expenses. When you say no, they ask again, and again, until you give – to the tune of several million dollars annually worldwide according to the Star Tribune
You can help protect yourself by taking a few simple steps when interacting with new romance.
- Stick to e-romance websites to make a digital love connection. These sites provide a safe forum for finding new friends, communicating with strangers, and everything else e-love.
- Never send money to someone you have not met, no matter the circumstance.
- If you do move your conversation from a dating site to email, create a separate account from your primary one dedicated to online dating discussions. This will help maintain a level of anonymity – and if the attacker chooses to send malware in an attachment it will be sequestered from your personal account.
- Install advanced antivirus, like ZoneAlarm Extreme Security, that scans your email for dangerous files attached to anonymous love letters, monitors your Facebook feed for malicious posts, and detects phishing schemes while browsing online.
- When communicating online, avoid giving out your personal information. Scammers gather information about their targets to make a quick buck and accumulate it in order to hack your identity.
- If you take your romance offline, meet your new partner in a public setting. There is no reason you need to share your home address or other personal information before you’ve met face-to-face.
Don’t let our warnings scare you from online dating all together. If you stick to trusted sites, use common sense, and follow our advice, you can steer clear of the dangers associated with e-dating. Afterall, tens of millions of real, good-intentioned people use eHarmony, Match.com, and OK Cupid each year in the US alone making the web one of the best places to meet your match – so long as you protect yourself.