Online daters targeted, FBI alert warns

Once again, online daters are being warned of confidence/romance scams that draw them into a relationship and then convince them to provide their financial or other information or send money, according to an FBI alert.

“In 2017, more than 15,000 people filed complaints with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) alleging they were victims of confidence/romance fraud and reporting losses of more than $211 million,” the FBI said. “In 2018, the number of victims filing these complaints increased to more than 18,000, with more than $362 million in losses — an increase of more than 70 percent over the previous year.”

Confidence/romance fraud logged in as “the seventh most commonly reported scam to the IC3 based on the number of complaints received, and the second costliest scam in terms of victim loss,” the alert said.

Agari has been chasing one such cybergang, dubbed, “Scattered Canary,” which plays the long-con romance scam game. The company has issues a Threat Actor Dossier on the African gang, which began as a lone wolf operation and evolved into an organization that expands its reach using business tactics.

“While losses related to romance scams are typically tracked on their own, romance and BEC scams are very close cousins when it comes to fraud. In almost every case investigated by our team, when banking details of a phishing email included a person’s name, that person was an unwitting participant of the BEC game,” the dossier said.

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