The International Criminal Police Organization, INTERPOL, warned its 194 member countries, including Canada, about threats of fraud as online dating apps surge during COVID-19.
In January, they issued a “purple” warning that fraudsters pose an increase threat for potential matches on dating apps.
“In the initial stages, an artificial romance is established via a dating app. Once communication becomes regular and a certain level of trust is established, criminals share investment tips with their victims and encourage them to join a scheme,” the report read.
In other words, users sign up to a dating app (Tinder, Bumble, Hinge, eHarmony, Christian Mingle, etc.) and, after matching and developing a relationship with the scammer, the victim may be convinced to join them in a financial venture.
“As is often the case with such fraud schemes, everything is made to look legitimate,” Interpol said. “Screenshots are provided, domain names are eerily similar to real websites, and customer service agents pretend to help victims choose the right products.”
Eventually, they get locked out of the account and are left confused.
INTERPOL’s Financial Crimes unit is encouraging dating app users to be vigilant, be skeptical and safe when entering and navigating online relationships.
“This has become especially important as people turn to online interactions during the COVID-19 pandemic,” INTERPOL said.
INTERPOL tips for avoiding fraud schemes while online dating:
• Be vigilant when approached, especially if it leads to a request for money
• Be skeptical of online investments with promises of large/fast returns
• Think twice before transferring money, however genuine the request might seem
• Do your research, check reviews, double check the app, the domain name, the email address, etc
• Don’t disclose personal/confidential information
• If you realize you’ve been the victim of a fraud, report it
To read INTERPOL’s full report, visit: https://www.interpol.int/en/News-and-Events/News/2021/Investment-fraud-via-dating-apps.