The SA fraud prevention service has warned against Valentine’s day scams online.
Safps issued a warning to singles to beware of scammers who preyed on the vulnerable during the month of love.
According to the service, Valentine’s Day was a lonely time but some people set themselves up as easy targets for scammers in their quest for romantic attention.
“The internet housed a large number of dating sites that may well serve their purpose but romance scams also abounded,” the service said.
Service head Manie van Schalkwyk said in the US, these types of scams had caught the attention of the FBI which had a unit dedicated to $230 million online scam industry.
“In South Africa, there has been a significant growth in this type of scam due to the proliferation of social media sites, not necessarily those set up for dating.”
Van Schalkwyk said scammers typically sought out individuals who were older than 50, either single or in difficult relationships, who were looking for romance.
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“Most victims are tech-savvy and targeted by criminal syndicates from anywhere in the world. It’s not hard for these people to target the emotionally vulnerable as people reveal much about themselves on social media,” said Van Schalkwyk.
He said the scammer would entice a prospective date with endearing messages that made the victim feel loved.
“This is the technique that inspires trust and leads the perpetrator to ask for a gift or money or a favour of some kind. In many situations, the person will promise a meeting, but this never materialises. Be very careful about how much personal information you share on social network sites, particularly photographs and videos as you may be setting yourself up as a target for a fraudster. Rather be safe than sorry,” he said.
Van Schalkwyk urged people to report such experiences to the service.
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