Prevent Cupid from Taking Aim at Your Finances
NEW YORK ( MainStreet) Romeos abound, especially online and will easily worm their way into your heart and bank account.
Online fraudsters are very sneaky and creative and have found new ways to convince millions of people to give up their bank or credit card information, often robbing consumers of their savings and ruining their credit. The FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center received 5,600 complaints in 2011 from victims of romantic suitors. The victims who reported the crimes lost a total of $50.4 million.
There are several telltale signs that your current romantic interest is really just not that into you, but definitely is obsessed with you giving up your financial data.
The Nigerian prince is still out there and working harder than ever. The conspirators have stepped up their game and now have dedicated call centers in Nigeria where they specialize in scamming people out of their hard earned money. They have learned the art of persuasion and coercion well.
The Nigerian letter has fraudsters pretending to be representatives of the country in some sort of official government role and offers you the "opportunity" to share in part of a large sum of money. However, they first need your help with expenses. Once you ante up the expenses, they can send the funds overseas and will reimburse you soon.
"Don't take money, don't receive money from him or her or for anyone under any condition," said Roman Gonzalez, security experience director of Toopher, an Austin, Texas-based company with an invisible, location-based multifactor authentication and authorization software tool that works with your smartphone.
"It's just not safe," he said. "But the advice is as blunt as a best friend: don't do it."
If your suitor suddenly suggests that you connect to them via another website or service, be very suspicious and cautious. This new website that you have never heard of "could be and likely is a fake or phished website designed to steal your information," he said. Instead the criminals are using this information to obtain your password that you use for other services.
"In any case, use conservative judgment on whether you connect with this person over more popular social networking sites or through your email," Gonzales said. "Email specifically is a private enough channel for the scammer to try and build trust."
Another sign that your new relationship is not real - the photos of your suitors are stunning and nearly picture perfect. If your new love interest is really attractive and you think he or she is out of your league, proceed carefully.
"Romance scammers will take pictures of wildly attractive women and use that to lure interested parties into thinking they hit the jackpot," he said. "I'm not saying you're not good enough for her, I'm just saying she's not real."