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How to avoid 'honey traps' in online dating sites

By MST News | Feb. 13, 2013 at 05:51pm
Various virtual 'honey traps' are common online – and once dazzled by a momentary passion, a user can easily find himself or herself left without money or with a nasty infection on his machine,according to Kaspersky Lab, a secure content and threat management solutions developer.

The popularity of online dating sites such as match.com, badoo.com, mamba.ru, etc. could hardly escape the attention of fraudsters. Spam emails imitating notifications from these sites are widespread in almost all major languages.

By clicking the links in these emails, the user runs the risk of infecting his computer with some sort of malicious program that is usually downloaded instead of the promised photos of a beautiful stranger.

Fake dating sites not only pose risks associated with phishing or malware – they can also jeopardize the wealth of the unwary user. One simple scam to loosen the users’ purse-strings is to demand registration or confirmation of age via a text message costing from 0.30 USD to 12 USD.

However, once the money has been spent no access is provided – because there is no content to access.

The most creative type of junk mail which has not lost its popularity throughout the years is the so-called Nigerian spam. The more romantic authors of these letters target potential victims registered on dating sites.

The “girl” who allegedly writes these sorts of emails usually lives in a distant, war-torn African country. Very soon the potential groom finds out his would-be fiancée is an heiress to a million-dollar inheritance and is willing to share her wealth with her betrothed.

However, to get his bride and her money out of the country, her future husband is asked to pay for some legal services. These tactics need long-term correspondence because very few people would agree to pay considerable sums guided by their heart rather than their head.

The first emails from the potential patsy are answered by a robot but once the fraudsters understand they have got a chance, they immediately enter into the correspondence.

Processing a potential victim can last a long time and here an individual approach and an understanding of psychology are especially important.

Unlike these “Nigerian” brides, "Russian" brides only need money to buy an air ticket and finally meet the man of their dreams – and of course this money becomes easy prey for the fraudsters.

“The Internet offers ample opportunities for communication. However, it is not always a safe place to search for romance. We have described only a few of the honey traps lying in wait on the Internet,” said Tatyana Kulikova, Senior Spam Analyst at Kaspersky Lab.

To avoid disappointment, Kulikova suggests these safety rules: (i) do not visit unknown dating sites especially those advertised in spam, (ii) do not open emails from unknown senders, and (iii) do not reply to emails if they seem suspicious.
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