As more users have turned to online dating apps during the pandemic, scammers have taken notice and are now using these apps to trick users into becoming involved in fake investments.
In fact, dating app scams have become so prevalent that Interpol recently issued a Purple Notice to its 194 member countries outlining the tactics used by these scammers. According to the notice, scammers have begun taking advantage of “people's vulnerabilities as they look for potential matches” in an effort to lure them into a sophisticated fraud scheme.
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While Interpol is just now informing member countries of this scam, the number of online dating fraud and abuse-related attacks reached 4m last year according to research from Arkose Labs.
Using dating apps for investment fraud
The global scam targets new users that have signed up for dating apps such as Tinder, Bumble, eHarmony and Hinge. Once these users match with a scammer and communication between them becomes regular, the scam artist then shares investment tips while encouraging them to join a scheme.
The scammers also lure potential targets to download a fake trading app, sign up for financial products and “work their way up a so-called investment chain”, all while remaining in contact with them on the dating app where they first met. In order to encourage these users to part with their cash though, the scammers provide incentives such as the promise of reaching either a premium “Gold” or “VIP” status on the trading app through their guidance.
Just like with a phishing campaign, the scammers do everything possible to make their scheme appear to be legitimate by using screenshots, lookalike domains and even customer service agents that pretend to help victims choose the right products. However, once a victim has been taken for their cash, they are locked out of the their investment accounts and the scammer cuts off all contact.
To avoid falling victim to this and similar online scams, Interpol recommends that users remain vigilant online when someone they don't know asks for money, be skeptical about online investment opportunities, do their research, avoid sharing personal information and think twice before transferring money to someone they've never met online.
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