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Info@NationalCyberSecurity

BBB Valentine’s Tip: Romance scams in the age of AI | #datingscams | #lovescams | #datingscams | #love | #relationships | #scams | #pof | #match.com | #dating


St. Louis, Mo., Feb. 7, 2024 – Better Business Bureau® (BBB®) warns those seeking romance to be on the lookout for scams when dating online. 

Romance scams have been around for years, but some experts suspect that going forward, access to generative AI tools will make it easier for scammers to reach victims. 

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This type of fraud is commonly reported to BBB. BBB received 455 reports to BBB Scam Tracker about romance scams last year and published an in-depth investigative study on them in 2018. 

Typically, the scammer makes a fake profile (AKA “catfishing”) and pursues a relationship with someone through a dating service, email or social media to gain their trust. They will eventually ask for money or personal information, and they may spend weeks or months pretending to date someone to pull the scam off. 

Some experts predict that AI tools that generate text or images may make fraud easier in general – and romance scams are no exception. AI chat programs can help scammers talk to more people faster, and they eliminate giveaways like misspelled words and poor grammar. Some AI programs can simulate voices, generate images or create fake video footage, making fake profiles more realistic.

“It’s easier than ever to meet new people thanks to online dating. Unfortunately, that means it’s also easier for scammers to contact you and take advantage of your emotions,” said Michelle L. Corey, BBB St. Louis president and CEO. “Keep your guard up when talking to strangers online.” 

How to stay safe when using dating services or meeting people online: 

  • Keep an eye out for these red flags: 
    • Making excuses not to meet. Romance scammers often claim to be in the military or have an overseas job that prevents them from meeting or calling you. 
    • Too good to be true. Use a healthy sense of skepticism if someone seems TOO perfect, attractive or successful. While you might have found a catch, it’s also possible a scammer is fishing for you. 
    • Moving too fast. If someone quickly starts saying they’ve never felt this way before or planning your future together, they might be making bold romantic statements to try to manipulate you. 
    • Using odd language. If the person you’re talking with claims to be from your hometown but has very poor spelling or grammar, uses overly flowery language or uses phrases that don’t make sense, beware. On the other hand, writing with absolutely no errors might indicate AI involvement, since humans tend to make small mistakes.  
    • Asking you to talk on another app. “Catfishers” will quickly try to get you to move to email, messenger or phone. 
    • Talking about trust and how important it is. This is often the first step to asking you for money. 
  • Check for fake profiles. You can do a reverse image lookup using a website like TinEye or Google to see if the photos on a profile are stolen from somewhere else. Scammers might use AI to generate a fake photo – check out these tips on how to spot AI generated images. You can also search online for a profile name, email or phone number to see what adds up and what doesn’t. Ask your date specific questions about their profile to see if they stumble. 
  • Talk to friends and family. Your loved ones can be a gauge to tell if you’re in an unsafe situation. Tell them about your new relationship and pay attention if they react with concern. 
  • Don’t send or move money – even for someone you’ve been talking to for a long time. Scammers will claim to have an emergency, a sick relative or a tragic past. Never send money, cryptocurrency or gift cards, or give someone your credit card information. Don’t move money for anyone, as they might be trying to trick you into being a “money mule” (moving illegal money from other scams).  
  • Don’t send private information or pictures. Cut contact if someone starts asking you for information like credit card, bank or government ID numbers.  

Report scams. If you think you’ve been targeted by a romance scam, report it to BBB Scam Tracker, even if the scam wasn’t successful. 

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