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How criminals are manipulating AI to target dating apps

In 2023, 64,000 people reported a romance scam, and losses to fraudulent online suitors hit a staggering $1.14 billion.
How criminals are manipulating AI to target dating apps
Posted at 9:51 PM, Feb 13, 2024

Love is in the air this week for Valentine’s Day and as people take their search for love online, the FBI is warning them to beware of romance scams.  

In 2023, 64,000 people reported a romance scam, and losses to fraudulent online suitors hit a staggering $1.14 billion, according to the Federal Trade Commission. The report found the median loss per victim was $2,000, the highest reported median loss when compared to any form of impostor scam.  

Over the years, artificial intelligence has evolved and become more accessible to the public, giving criminals new options to cast a wider net and target more victims on social media and dating apps.   

Kevin Gosschalk, the founder and CEO of Arkose Labs, a company providing support and technology to stop large-scale automated attacks, told Scripps News that con artists are targeting dating apps, and it’s becoming more difficult for systems put in place by companies to detect the phony profiles given the more sophisticated technology.  

“A new trend we're seeing is they're using AI-generated technology, which lets them craft automatically very personal, very normal looking messages, and it also has the ability to converse with victims as well,” Gosschalk said.  

The Arkose Cyber Threat Intelligence Research Unit observed a more than 2,000% increase in attacks on dating sites and applications in January of 2024 compared to the same time last year. Gosschalk adds that these attacks tend to spike during Valentine’s Day, Christmas, and New Year’s.  

In recent years, the FBI has highlighted the stories of victims who lost their savings to online romance scams. One woman was duped out of $2 million by a suitor she never met, according to the FBI. She told authorities the man said he needed money to finish up a job and promised to give it back within 24-48 hours. She never saw the money again.  

“I’ve lost everything. It’s all I had,” the woman recounted.  

Her story is like many reported year after year to law enforcement. Authorities urge people to file reports of romance scams as soon as possible to the FTC, the Better Business Bureau, or the FBI to help increase the chances of recovering a portion of losses.  

Tips to avoid falling victim to a romance scam:  

- Never send money, cryptocurrency, gift cards, bank or wire transfers to someone you have not met  

- Don’t share your bank account with strangers  

- Be suspicious of someone who cancels in-person meetings/dates  

- Do a reverse image search of the person’s profile  

- Limit sharing personal information online   

- Ask a lot of questions  

- Listen to your gut  

- Check on loved ones: Experts say scammers will target people who are lonely or grieving.  

SEE MORE: How to do Valentine's Day on a budget without looking cheap

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