Valentine's Day is a day of romance and expressions of love, but it’s also a time for scam artists to take advantage and break a heart. If you're not careful you could fall victim to a Valentine's Day scam.
Valentine’s Phishing Scams
As February 14th approaches, we expect notes of love to arrive in our mailboxes. Cyber-crooks are well aware of this and use this time of year to trick those who are “love-struck” into divulging their personal and financial information. One email claims to be from a flower company and indicates the flowers you ordered for your sweetheart won’t be delivered unless you log in and re-enter your credit card information. A significant number of these messages will reach people that have actually ordered flowers, and no one wants their loved one to think they've forgotten them on Valentine's Day! If you click the link in that email and enter your credit card information you could have a real problem once you get your next statement. Even if you think a message like this is real, go directly to the florist's website or call them on the phone.
Online Dating Scams
As Valentine's Day approaches many singles turn to online dating websites to find true love. What many find is a broken heart. Scam artists often create fake profiles designed to match a certain kind of person. Once they make contact with you the scam begins. Whether you are talking in a chat room, through instant messages, or emails it slowly becomes clear that you've hit the jackpot. This new person you've met is perfect in every way. They have the same likes and dislikes as you and most importantly, they really dig you. The cybercriminal gains your trust, and then attempts to “meet you.” However, your true love won't have enough money for the trip and will need you to wire funds for a plane ticket. This often involves mail order bride scams, or a scam where you wire a “soldier” money for military leave. This is a very old and common scam.
Valentine’s Day eCard Scam
Be careful opening eCards on the web! In the case of the Valentine’s Day eCard scam, and email directs the receiver to a fake website that looks a lot like Hallmark or American Greetings. The site prompts the receiver of the card to download the latest version of Flash Player, in order to view the card. Once the love-struck receiver of the card installs the software, their computer is taken over with a Trojan, which is a program that can give someone (besides the user) full access to a computer and all of the files on it. Pay attention when you click on links, be sure the web address you are going to is the correct one, and in this case, the email doesn’t state a name – it is generic – which is another sign that this could be a scam and it could have gone out to millions of people.