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Decoy Words and Love Letters: How Scammers Trick Americans on Valentine's Day

February is the time of year when cybercriminals like to play Cupid, aiming their “arrows” at potential victims, writes USA Today.

Photo: Shutterstock

Security company Check Point Research says that over the past few years in February, scammers have often used the word “Valentine” as bait for unsuspecting romantics. It is this word in the title that often leads people to malicious sites.

In 2018 and 2019, the use of the word "Valentine" on malicious websites jumped more than 200% over previous months in the same years.

Cybercriminals love the word "chocolate" too. In 2018, they used the word almost 500% more often as bait in February than in other months of the year. But their attachment to him declined in February 2019, increasing only 39% over other months.

On the subject: Hundreds of thousands of dollars on broken hearts: how fraudsters ruin lonely Americans

Why cybercriminals love Valentine's Day so much

This is the perfect cover for fraudulent schemes. The perpetrator can disguise his tricks, such as tricking you into downloading his malware, while hiding among the many real Valentine's Day websites. According to Check Point Research, in the first week of February alone, people around the world visited more than 10 domains containing the word “Valentine”.

In 2019, email scam campaigns were widespread in the lead-up to Valentine's Day, with users receiving emails with “This is my love letter to you” headlines.

In 2020, such schemes were also used. They usually use the theme: "I am looking at your profile, and I really like it ... But my best photos ..."

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Protect yourself from fraud

Here's how to avoid fraudulent lures before the holiday:

  • Make sure you are placing your order on a legitimate website. Search online retailers and click on search results instead of following sponsored links in emails.
  • Do your own research before jumping into "specials" that sound too good to be true. "An 80% discount on a new iPad is usually not reliable or trustworthy," Check Point Research notes.
  • Watch for attempts to fool you with similar domains.
  • In addition, spelling errors are common in fraudulent mailings, emails and websites.

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The Devil's Dozen: IRS Recommendations for Protection Against 12 Tax Fraud Schemes

Miscellaneous fraud Valentine Educational program cyber fraud
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