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Valentine’s day - beware of Rogues in Romeo’s clothing!

April 30, 2024

Valentines Day, a time for gifts, flowers and fun, but there’s a darker side to the season of teddy bears and Star Wars socks. This is a time when cybercriminals tap into their “romantic” side and craft emails to trick would-be Romeos and Juliets’ with a banquet of cyberscams.

Valentine's Day is a perfect way to get you to click on malware. An email may hit your mailbox with massive last-minute discounts or it may even seduce you with a “secret admirers'' ploy. Sadly that link you clicked is not going to score you an 80% discount on chocolates, or reveal the identity of an admirer. Instead it will give them access to personal data that they will use to clean out your bank account or hold you to ransom.

According to Check Point, in 2019, there was a 200% increase in the use of the word “Valentine” on malicious websites during the month of February. The word “chocolates'  racked up a 500% increase. Dating websites like Match.com and PlentyOfFish have been targeted for malware, with “love bots'' being used to coerce people into divulging their personal details. Humans are simple beings, when food or love is on the table, common sense becomes less common.

Here's some common ways scammers use the cupids arrow to snare their victims:

If you receive an eCard, make sure you verify who sent it, yes it takes out the mystery but better than getting malware installed on your device. If it's anonymous, delete it, it’s just not worth the risk.

Those songs, Gifs and videos you find cute or funny (or you love them can't be bothered to come up with something inspiring) on social media, may be the perfect thing to send to your crush and Cybercriminals would agree. However, their intentions are far from romantic, they use them to install malware on your device or line you up for a ransom attack. If you use these shortcuts, make sure your computer is protected with antivirus/antimalware software and you can trust the source.

Phishing scams don’t only happen when you place an order for a bogus product, they also target people who are waiting for deliveries. It’s a perfect time to fool you into thinking that the parcel for your partner may not arrive in time, so you may click in a mildly panicked state without thinking.These attacks are also popular via SMS (Smishing) and they look incredibly convincing. Rather track your parcel on the site you ordered it from.

Watch out for emails that take you to fake sites for flowers, jewellery, and romantic dining offers. If the email comes with an attachment, it could be malicious. It's best to avoid promotional emails and order directly from a trusted site. Search in Google for  the retailer and click the link from the Google results page. Look out for look-alike domains, they will usually have spelling errors in emails, URLs or unfamiliar website brands. Research reviews, you will often see comments from unfortunates who have already been scammed.

There’s even “Flirt bots” trawling the web, they are programs that strike up a conversation with web users and then send them links to malicious websites. Their goal is to obtain passwords, logins or even infect your device. Avoid clicking on links received via instant messages or in chat rooms.

Finally, if you run a business make your staff aware of valentine phishing scams, employees are most often the culprits because they open  infected emails.