ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – A warning to those of you without a Valentine.
Many still looking for love are turning to online dating sites and social media to find their next romance.
But beware of scammers who use Valentine’s Day as a way to get into your heart and your accounts.
Online dating and social media have made it easier than ever to meet new people and to date, but unfortunately, it’s also made scammer’s work much simpler. Valentine’s Day sees a surge in fake accounts.
If your single status on Facebook has you searching for love this Valentine’s Day many are spending their evening with their social media.
The Better Business Bureau of Upstate New York says fake profiles seem to multiply on the romantic holiday. Troy cyber security experts Grey Castle explain why.
“If I was a cyber criminal and my target was lonely individuals, Valentine’s Day would be a great opportunity for me.”
CEO Rich Harnish says many scammers start with fake profiles on online dating sites and apps. He says beware of free sites.
“How do you think they’re paying for that? If they’re not charging you, guess what, they’re selling your information, they’re presenting you with ads that you probably don’t want to see,” Harnish said. “If you are paying for an app you’re generally less likely to encounter that and that business is less likely to need to sell your information to stay afloat.”
To see how simple it was to create a fake account, NEWS10 ABC’s Noel McLaren tried it and set up a profile in her cat’s name using stock photos. It took less than five minutes.
So how do you distinguish between a real love interest and a fake? Harnish says if the profile looks too good to be true it probably is. He also says if someone messages you on social media and you don’t know them, use common sense.
“Do the same thing you would do on the street which is if a stranger came up to you and wanted to give you a big hug and say ‘hey it’s been great to see you, it’s been so long.’ What would you do? Be like woah, who are you?”
If you’ve already started talking to someone online that you’re suspicious of, there are a few signs the profile could be fake.
The BBB says if a person always makes excuses to postpone the meeting, or if a person always claims to be traveling, you might want to keep your guard up.