Summer Lovin, Or Fraudin?
“The Internet makes this type of crime easy because you can pretend to be anybody you want to be.”
- Christine Beining, FBI special agent
In a Romance Scheme, a fraudster assumes a false identity on an online dating site in order to trick people into giving them money. Industry analysts say that as many as one out of 10 online dating profiles may be fraudulent, depending on the site. These scammers constantly scan profiles to identify the most lucrative and most vulnerable targets:
- Often women above the age of 50
- Profiles revealing vulnerabilities, for example, divorced, widowed or disabled
- Targets disclose economic status, for example: a home in an upscale zip code
Fraudsters use this information—and the cover of anonymity—to rapidly forge an intense relationship with the victim. They use whatever means necessary to ingratiate themselves with the target, such as sending gifts. It’s not uncommon for fraudsters to quickly propose marriage. That’s when they’ll ask for money for fictitious reasons, often in the form of a quick loan for:
- Airfare so the fraudster can travel to meet the victim
- A medical or economic emergency
- Unexpected tax payments, bills, or expenses
Typically, the fraudster promises to quickly repay the victim, as soon as their next paycheck arrives, when they receive payment from someone else who owes them money, or as soon as they inherit money.
What’s important to know is that these are not one-off scams by individual fraudsters. These are sophisticated, planned attacks by criminal gangs operating in concert. In fact, these gangs will even use bots to automate the initial prospecting and harvesting of victims in order to accelerate the process and speed up results. But regardless of how they ensnare a victim, fraudsters often perpetrate other scams and frauds once they identify a vulnerable target. These might involve:
- Obtaining login information for bank, credit/debit card, travel, retail/shopping, or other accounts
- Fake investment or real estate schemes
- Fraudulent charitable contributions
- Blackmail (exploit explicit photos shared by the victim with the fraudster)
Not only will the criminal gang exploit the victim among its own gang members, but will also sell this information on the Dark Web so other fraudsters can attack.
Fortunately, dating sites can take easy and affordable steps to protect their members by implementing anti-fraud login and account protection solutions like Kount Access.
Kount Access helps:
- Detect and block known fraudsters, preventing them from getting access to the dating network in the first place.
- Identify new/unknown scammers through the use of sophisticated, real-time technologies like Order Linking, Device ID, Geo-location, Proxy Piercing, etc. Kount employs the unlimited computing and storage capacity of Artificial & Intelligence Machine Learning to analyze the data provided by these technologies and reveal the nefarious connections between devices, networks, IP addresses, credit card accounts, etc. to link unknown fraudsters to other bad behavior (see Leverage Big Data below).
- Stop automated tactics like bots with powerful technologies like Velocity Checks.
- Leverage Big Data. Fraudsters typically operate multiple types of fraud scams. If they are involved in online dating scams, there’s a good chance they’re also involved with stolen credit cards. With access to over 1 billion credit card transactions across hundreds of countries involving millions of daily transactions within hundreds of industry types, Kount has an unrivalled ability to use the power of this Big Data set to protect dating sites.
Most importantly, Kount executes all of this in mere milliseconds, making anti-fraud login and account protection virtually undetectable to legitimate users during login.
Download the 2017 Mobile Payments & Fraud Report and discover even more facts and figures about the mobile space and online dating industry.