The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is alerting users of online dating platforms about an ongoing scam where fraudsters pose as concerned individuals and offer “free” verification services.

The goal is to trick victims into signing up for recurring subscriptions and harvesting personal data for further fraudulent activities.

How the Scheme Works

Fraudsters meet victims on a dating website or app. Fraudsters express an interest in establishing a relationship and quickly move the conversation off the dating app or website to an encrypted platform. Under the guise of safety, the fraudster provides a link that directs the victim to a website advertising a “free” verification process to protect against establishing a relationship with predators, such as sex offenders or serial killers.

The website displays fake articles alluding to the legitimacy of the website. The verification website prompts the victim to provide information such as their name, phone number, email address, and credit card number to complete the process. Once the victim submits the information, they are unwittingly redirected to a private, low-quality dating site charging costly monthly subscription fees. Eventually, the victim’s monthly credit card statement displays a charge to an unknown business.

Buy Me A Coffee

Tips to Protect Yourself

  • Avoid clicking on links, downloading files, or opening attachments from someone you only met online. Only open attachments from known senders and scan all attachments for viruses, if possible.
  • Avoid moving the conversation from a reputable dating site’s messaging service, since many of these offer some safety features.
  • Report suspicious user profiles to the dating site administrator and cease all contact with suspicious users.
  • Be cautious of someone you only met online professing their love quickly, expressing a need for help, and/or enticing you with provocative pictures and text topics. Fraudsters use social behavior to deceive you and separate you from your hard-earned money.
  • Do not provide sensitive information to someone you only met online. Regularly monitor your personal financial accounts for irregularities, such as recurring charges to unknown businesses.
  • Contact your credit card issuer/bank as soon as possible if you discover what appears to be a fraudulent transaction. Explore the possibility of closing that credit card.
  • Use one credit card with a limited balance or consider using virtual credit cards when subscribing to new online services.
  • Avoid websites that use scare tactics to coerce you to register for a service. Search the source of all information to determine its legitimacy.
  • Stay updated about the latest fraud schemes by following the FBI IC3 website or other financial government websites.
READ
CERT-In Finds Multiple Vulnerabilities in Android, Advises Users to Update

The FBI requests victims report fraudulent, suspicious, or online criminal activity to the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) at www.ic3.gov.