Interpol has issued a notice describing a scam tactic popular on dating applications. The scheme is a mixture of a romance scam and an investment fraud, taking advantage of victims’ loneliness and their desire to make money.
“In the initial stages, an artificial romance is established via a dating app,” Interpol says. “Once communication becomes regular and a certain level of trust is established, criminals share investment tips with their victims and encourage them to join a scheme. “Victims download a trading app and open an account, buy various financial products and work their way up a so-called investment chain, all under the watchful eye of their new “friend”. They are made to believe they can reach Gold or VIP status.
The scammers go to great lengths to manipulate their victims and make them think the ruse is authentic.
“As is often the case with such fraud schemes, everything is made to look legitimate,” the notice states. “Screenshots are provided, domain names are eerily similar to real websites, and customer service agents pretend to help victims choose the right products. One day, however, all contact stops and victims are locked out of the account. They’re left confused, hurt, and worried that they’ll never see their money again.”
Interpol notes that online romance scams have proliferated during the pandemic. The agency offers the following advice for users to stay safe online:
- Always be vigilant when you are approached by someone you don’t know, especially if it leads to a request for money.
- Be skeptical: online investments with promises of fast, amazing returns are often too good to be true.
- Think twice before transferring money, however genuine the request might seem.
- Do your research: check reviews, double check the app, the domain name, the email address, etc.
- Don’t disclose personal/confidential information.
- If you realize you’ve been the victim of a fraud, report it.
New-school security awareness training can give your employees a healthy sense of suspicion so they can avoid falling victim to these schemes.
Interpol has the story.