Chatbot and verification scams target dating site users: Internet Scambusters #732
Chatbots -- computer programs that simulate human conversation -- are the latest scam recruits on dating site Tinder.
In this week's issue, we explain how to spot them and what to do if you fall victim.
We also have news of a quick and easy way to check whether a potential investment is likely a scam or not.
Now, here we go...
Chatbots Speed Up Tinder Dating Scams
We all know about dating scammers who pose as lonely hearts in their quest to hoodwink their victims, but now it seems that computers are taking over the imposter roles.
"Chatbots" -- computer programs that use artificial intelligence to strike up conversations with dating site users -- enable scammers to "talk" with multiple potential victims at once.
They're particularly active on the Tinder dating app, which employs users' locations and Facebook profiles to try to link them with nearby online romance seekers.
The aims are the same as with all dating scams -- the crooks either want to trick you into sending them money or into downloading malware onto your PC.
In the process, they may also be targeting victims for identity theft or other criminal activities.
Chatbot scammers just speed up the whole process, storing information about their victims and "inventing" all manner of chat-up lines to quickly hook their victims.
For those who don't know Tinder, it works by flashing up photos of other users in your vicinity and then you can either approve them or not, according to your taste, simply by swiping right or left respectively.
When two people have swiped right on each other's photos, Tinder puts them in touch with each other for an online chat.
All scam photos are fakes, of course, and you can find out how to spot them in those earlier issues.
But the way chatbots behave also gives away their true nature.
According to the consumer tech site Lifewire, there are five signs you may be talking to a machine instead of a real person.
- Chatbots don't need to use a keyboard so they insert text much faster than a human would be able to type. They'll also be in touch with you in double-quick time, a fraction of a second after a right swipe. Then, they'll continue to respond to your messages much faster than a real person could.
- As clever as they are, they don't always seem to be "listening" to what you're saying. Instead, they fire off general "flirty" statements and often don't answer questions you input.
- You don't seem to have anything in common with them. As we said earlier, Tinder uses Facebook profiles as part of the date-matching process. If you don't have common friends or interests, this may be a sign of chatbot activity.
- They quickly move on to asking you to visit a particular web page or use your credit card for some seemingly legitimate purpose. If you don't respond -- which of course you shouldn't -- they'll be inclined to keep making the request over and over. After all, they are automatons!
- As with most other dating scams, the chatbot's photo likely will be of a stunning good-looker. Unless you're one too, you have to ask yourself why they'd be so enthusiastic about linking up with you.
Once you realize you're being bot-chatted, you can block future interactions with this profile by using Tinder's blocking feature.
If you want to learn more about chatbot tactics, you can read the full Lifewire report: Could Your Tinder Match be a Scam Bot?
Unfortunately, that's not the only new trick that Tinder scammers are using.
Security firm Symantec has identified a phishing scam in which crooks ask for users' personal information by pretending that you need to be "verified" by the dating service.
It's a clever trick because it plays on a major fear of users -- the risk that the person they're chatting with might be dangerous.
The bogus verification service is supposed to vouch for the integrity of the user.
Typically, the victim will get a message from a match asking something like: "What's your verification code? Here's mine...."
Confused, the victim usually asks what a verification code is and the scammer responds with a bogus link that usually includes "tinder" in the name to make it seem authentic.
If the victim clicks the link, they're taken to what seems to be a Tinder page where they're asked for personal information, which is then used to sign them up for hard-to-cancel subscription services costing up to $120 a month.
Needless to say, some of these scammers are the very same chatbots we wrote about earlier -- so, human or not, be on the lookout for these tricksters.
Tinder itself has a full web page of safety advice on all aspects of security, including scams, for users.
Alert of the Week
Worried about the possibility of getting caught up in an investment scam?
Test it via this question-driven "Scam Meter" from the U.S. Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).
It's fairly basic but worth a try. However, the fact that you are suspicious enough to use it should encourage you to also seek impartial advice from a reputable financial advisor before committing any of your money.
That's it for today -- we hope you enjoy your week!