EXPERTS have warned about scammers using artificial intelligence to lurk on dating apps and steal users’ money.
Hundreds of users will be looking for love on dating apps this Valentine’s Day.
And while some may find it, experts estimate that many of them will fall victim to AI-powered romance scams.
A romance scam comprises of a criminal creating a fake online persona to gain a victim’s affection and trust.
They then use that perceived trust to manipulate or steal from the victim.
“Everybody is at risk because AI scams target people based on their interest and online presence,” Iksander Sanchez-Rola, Director of Privacy Innovation at cybersecurity firm Gen, told The U.S. Sun.
“Older adults new to online dating and social media may be more susceptible to being duped,” Sanchez-Rola added.
Most often, the scammers target users on dating apps like Tinder, Hinge, and Bumble.
And now with the help of artificial intelligence, it has never been easier to carry out such scams.
Thanks to AI, savvy cybercriminals can generate fake photos, fake audio, and even fake videos – known as deepfakes.
Deepfakes have been consistently on the rise since the technology first appeared in 2017.
Typically, the method is employed to extort money from victims through phishing scams, identity theft, and financial fraud.
“AI has not only given scammers the ability to create very convincing profiles, conversations, and websites, it also allows them to scam more people and do it from anywhere in the world,” Sanchez-Rola explained.
“Cyber criminals are using AI tools to sound convincingly like a native speaker in conversations even when they might not be and could be a scammer from across the globe,” they added.
“It’s a big, bold reminder that when it comes to cybercrime, our hearts can be our greatest weakness.”
HOW DO THESE SCAMS WORK?
Typically, a romance scammer will reach out to a victim first, and then try to establish a relationship as quickly as possible.
Eventually, the scammer will ask for money, either in the form of cash or through apps like Zelle or Venmo.
In other instances, scammers may ask victims to disclose banking details or purchase items online.
There are several warning signs one can look out for to avoid falling victim to romance scams.
The most surefire sign is someone who asks you for money, goods, or financial assistance without having met in person.
People should also be wary of anyone who claims that meeting them was “destiny” or “fate” and/or who reports a sudden personal crisis.
HOW TO STAY SAFE
There are several steps you can take to prevent yourself from falling victim to an AI romance scam.
First and foremost, you should never send money to anyone you have only communicated with online or by phone.
Always analyze images on dating apps to determine if they’re AI-generated.
Some signs that indicate AI generation are weirdly placed shadows, a soulless-looking gaze, or an extra finger.
Also inspect the conversation for typos, poor grammar, and overall poor composition.
“They live far away, their profile is too good to be true, can’t be found, or a has different name and description on other sites,” Sanchez-Rola said.
“These are all signs this person is not real.”
While scammers are known for their poor writing skills, AI-generated text may be more grammatically correct.
However, sometimes the sentences can appear choppy so this should ring bells.
Be careful what information you share or make public as fraudsters can use that to target you.
“The more scammers know about you, the more they know how to lure you,” Sanchez-Rola noted.
“Consider keeping your dating profiles anonymous by using different usernames on sites or even different emails to protect your privacy.”
If you develop a relationship online, always research the person’s photo and profile and ask a lot of questions.
Beware if you are asked for inappropriate photos or financial information as this is a major red flag.
It should also raise concern if the person fails to show up for multiple attempts to meet.
Similarly, “seeing someone’s face can be a surefire way to determine whether they’re real or fake,” Sanchez-Rola explained.
“Set up a phone or video chat early on in your communications. If they dodge the opportunity, they may be a romance scammer. If they agree, check for strange effects. It could be a deepfake.”