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Cybersecurity expert comment: 1 in 3 targeted by romance scams

August 2023 by Carl Wearn, Head of Threat Intelligence Analysis and Future Ops at Mimecast

After the news that one in three people have been targeted
by romance con artists [1], according to new research. Victims typically
lose an average of £2,331 to scammers. Banks say these types of
scammers stole £31.3 million in 2022, but Action Fraud believes the
true figure is closer to £95 million a year.

Carl Wearn Head of Threat Intelligence Analysis and Future Ops at
Mimecast has commented on the news, stating the social engineering
attacks are believable enough nowadays to gain credibility with targets.

_“It is unsurprising to see that the number of romance scams has
increased in recent years. Scammers are combining social engineering and
multi-channel campaigns by posing as fake personalities online to find
and connect with potential victims who are looking for a romantic
relationship, before tricking them into giving away valuable information
or credentials that can be sold for monetary gain._

_“This trick is believable enough to gain credibility with targets.
Usually, social engineering uses psychological manipulation to trick
users into making security mistakes or giving away sensitive
information. It is worrying to learn that despite the financial loss and
psychological trauma caused by these scams within the digital world,
victims are often reluctant to come forward as they feel they will be
blamed or accused of being too naïve for being targeted by such
fraudsters. _

_“I would urge caution on anyone who is involved in an internet-based
relationship to be critically aware that any communication that takes
place online – whether via email or dating app – should be heavily
scrutinised and double checked for validity before taking any action on
it. It is important for people to stay alert to ensure they are not
duped. Individuals should try and avoid clicking on any links in
electronic messages where they can and navigate ULRs to any websites via
a web browser search instead to check the URL authenticity.”_

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