Of Love and Scams. 

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Computers are meant to help us but often they help others to help themselves.

Co-incidents do happen sometimes.  This is one of these occasions.  On this particular day, actually it was the 14th February (St. Valentine’s Day) and I was busy checking on my emails as they arrived on my computer.  Imagine my surprise, more like general interest really, to see two separate emails regarding Valentine Day scams from two different PR companies.  But that’s not the co-incidence referred to earlier.

The co-incidence was about to happen as the browsing of my email messages was interrupted by a phone call which instantly started to sprout its pre-recorded message the moment I picked up the handset of my landline phone.  As you might imagine, due to the pre-recorded nature of the call, there was no mention of my name or that of the company that was making the call.  But what was the reason for this recorded telephone call?  It seems that in some mythical world, I had paid this unnamed company money to repair or tend to my computer.  However as the company had now gone bust and was closing down, it wanted to return the money I had originally paid.  All I needed to do was call the supplied telephone number in the message.  Now was that not nice of them to return my hard earned cash.  If only every company that closed down did the same thing then imagine the kind of world we would be living in or am I already deluded and living in a fantasy world when the day designated to love comes with a money-back offer.

Fortunately the arrival of the earlier emails had turned on the appropriate warning bells as I absorbed their content regarding possible scams.  According to the experts at Kaspersky Lab, they have detected a sharp increase in phishing activities relating to the romantic appeal of St. Valentine’s Day.  Compared to last year, such activity has more than doubled as attempts were made to steal users’ data and money by tempting them to visit websites with romantic themes encouraging users to give their hearts along with relevant password, credit card number, bank account details and plenty of personal information for offers too good to be true especially those that are one-time or free offers. 

Kaspersky Lab offers various advice for staying safe in such situations as these for those involving the romantic inclined.  Pointers to look out for include messages requiring immediate action and asking for plenty of personal information.  Kaspersky Lab has recommended the use of a special bank card, with limited funds, for use with such dodgy purchases.  You could also use a reliable security solution such as those available from Kaspersky Lab.

But of course you are too savvy to be tempted by such tactics and would never feature as part of the 4.3 million users who attempted to visit fraudulent websites during the first half of February 2019.  This figure covers those users who attempts were detected and blocked by Kaspersky Lab solutions as the more romantic amongst us trued t order gifts and performance enhancement drugs to impress our loved ones.  Just imagine how many users actually got through to the scammers’ lovers paradise.  Maybe UK residents can take some satisfaction from learning we did not feature in the top five affected countries..  Topping this list is Brazil with a share of 6.4% followed by Portugal (5.8%), Venezuela (5.5%), Greece (5.3%) and Spain (5.1%) as the tenderness of love causes users to loose their vigilance.

Advice was also forthcoming from ESET regarding staying safe from an influx of Valentine Day scams.  Following research, ESET discovered that 1 in 8 users are looking for love but only 39% of those surveyed were certain that their mobile phone was protected by antivirus software,  leaving 61% vulnerable to possible attacks.  Along with advice to download antivirus software, ESET offers tips that include watching out for phishing emails from online dating scammers, taking care of fake Valentine Cards as they can contain malware and be cautious of Valentine bouquet from florists especially those with plenty of “likes”.  So lets hope your Valentine Days experience does not come back to bite you either now or in the coming future.

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