Online Dating – Dangerous Ishq!


In this era of busy lifestyle, it is obvious that people have less time to dedicate to their personal lives and hence tend to become lonely. If I say that we live in the age of lonely hearts… I may not be wrong!

These lonely hearts always try to find some or the other way to escape their emptiness… With social media taking over… rather, leading the communication sector… it has proved to be the best tool and the most common way to find friends… and also that ‘special someone’.

Just like any relationship… online relationships too have their own success as well as unsuccessful stories. However, here the issue is that we begin getting closer and opening our heart to some one we never met… we don’t know at all about that person still we get in to the relationship and find a soulmate in that person… hence chances of things going wrong are comparatively more.

I consider such scams into two categories;

1. Personal

2. Cyber threats

When I talk about personal benefits, spying and money extortion tops the list. Any one who wants to spy an individual can fall in love with or make the individual fall in love online. People find this as an easy way to fool some one and earn money in the name of emotions and friendship.

I am sure many of us might have faced such situation wherein, we have met some one online who gradually becomes good friends and then at times love. Later that person may have asked for financial help stating that they are facing some unforeseen situations. Usually such online relationships are short-term though with a promise of long-term at the beginning. The intention is financial benefit. The day you deny helping such person, you do not love or rather trust that person!

As per FBI, chances of women being trapped in such romance Scams is double than men. Last year (2011) the losses reported from this type of fraud reached $50.4 million, with the average victim losing around $8,900 in the name of love. The FBI report also claims that at a rate of 15 complaints received per day, these scams saw daily reported losses of approximately $138,000, or more than $5,700 every hour.

 Most of the times, it is difficult to identify the intentions of the real people behind the fake profiles. The scam artists are innovative in terms of developing new tricks and excellent when it comes to creating characters online to run such frauds. They win trust and heart of victims and often leave them heartbroken and financially ruined.

 The second category of Online dating scams is cyber threats. With the growing cyber age… cyber terrorism, cyber espionage is on peak. Cyber criminals easily take advantage of people adapting to the online dating and relationships in order to exploit the vulnerabilities. Hackers know that in the name of love, fooling people is easy. Moreover, once the trust is won, it is easy to get access the victim’s financial information with an intention of identity theft. Such activities include less effort and help attain maximum output with zero percent physical interaction. No doubt, online dating is a billion dollar industry!

 These days online scammers have started a new scam campaign on Facebook wherein they alert you that someone has viewed your profile or has showed interest in you or has posted a message for you. Then to know more about it they ask you to click on the mentioned link (fraud). Once you click on that link, you welcome malware in your system that takes over your system by infecting it.  

 In addition, at times dating sites are hacked due to improper security measures deployed by the web site. Even if the user exercises utmost caution, the site itself may provide complete information about the member to the hackers including CC number, etc. in case the victim is a paid registered member. Recently, a military dating website – www.militarysingles.com was hacked into by hackers wherein they took confidential information such as passwords, email addresses, etc. from more than 170,000 records. 

 Moreover, in case the photographs are shared while in the online relationship, anyone can take advantage of those pictures. I hope you know about morphed images! People who fall prey of such scams not only face financial loss buy also embarrassment that is usually tragic.

 So, next time anyone who tries to find love online, always ensure of not sharing any kind of sensitive information while interacting on dating sites. Parents, especially of teens, should be cautious and ensure that the child is not getting in such practices. Remember that photographs are not the right proof to judge the genuinity of person and may not even show the real sender (scammer). There is a possibility that the love interest (scammer) of the victim may not even be the same gender that was informed at the beginning of the relationship. It is not that such scams may only happen when some one approaches to the victim. There is a possibility that the scammers may have created a profile on the dating site and then waits for a potential victim to contact them.

 At times, scammers send out random unsolicited emails stating that they are a loner or have a desire to begin a relationship in the hope that some gullible recipients will favourably respond. Many a times, such relationships also begin in chat rooms or messengers.

 Well, I know, anyone reading this may have a question in their mind – is it possible to find love online? I would say, anything is possible… however, I guess we ourselves are the better person who can think best for us! Or may be we are looking for love in wrong places!

Internet Threats to children


I recently read about investigation that resulted in child rape charges against a 19-year-old in Salisbury with an ugly journey into the world of Internet crime and child pornography. As the investigation proceeded deeper into the underground realm of child pornography and Internet crime, this extensive nature of the danger to children goes far beyond what most of us would imagine.

Internet has proved to be a both boon as well as bane for this generation. With the rapid & intense penetration of Internet in our lives, our screen time is increasing day-by-day. Today’s world is full of information that is accessible to all age groups just with a click. This age group can be as young as 4 years to as old as 70 years. All the information, good or bad is right in front of children which can be both misused and put to good use.

Today, children are exposed to a wide variety of information on the internet. Statistics shows that approximately 80% of children who are five years of age use the Internet at least once a week. And I am astonished to know that over 60% of children from three years are watching movies on the Internet and mostly are using Internet TV. It is estimated that time spent watching TV is 47% of all time spent to the media devices by children and 90% of 5-9 year old children on a daily basis reads books for at least an hour. However, children’s screen time is increasing day-by-day every year, though the books time remains the same. Well, that is the only reason I feel that children of such an age are quite vulnerable to Internet threats. Frankly speaking, at times, they even don’t exactly know, at which link they are clicking and whether the Internet site is free of Malware, Spyware and Viruses. No doubt, many times they land up navigating child-sensitive content sites that can affect child’s psychological health. Their inquisitive mind does also have some questions about some aspects of life. They have found the answer on internet and now know how to access the tool quite well. They easily become victims as they don’t know what they’re getting themselves into when they respond to Internet predators.

With social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and many, the current generation seems to be too much obsessed with themselves. They have these so-called ‘short attention spans’ and a childlike desire for constant feedback on their lives. Well, why should someone be so much interested in what someone else has had for breakfast or gets stuck in traffic or goes out for shopping? Though the present scenario is that, children who are these social networking site users, feel the need to become mini celebrities who are watched and admired by others on a daily basis. They do things that are Facebook status worthy and keep updating about their lives on these walls because they feel that this is the only way they can define themselves by ‘people knowing about them’.

It is almost as if they are going through some kind of identity crisis…

In a sense it seems as if keeping the brain in a sort of time warp…

It is almost as if people are living in a world that is unreal where what counts is what people think of you or if they can click on you…

And to gain attention children don’t even bother to know much about whom they are adding… all they want is to have a fan following…! They don’t know that with updating almost about every move and activity, there are chances of them being kidnapped easily, too!

I am not a psychiatrist, though somewhere I feel that this growth of so-called ‘Internet friendships’ have the capability to effectively rewire a child’s brain that can result affecting their concentration, a need for instant gratification and poor non-verbal skills, such as the ability to make eye contact during conversations…!

Talking about the child rape charge in Salisbury, the fact that somehow the victim’s mother discovered those disturbing e-mails sent to her son by the criminal was the reason behind the investigation which was initiated. The e-mails were soliciting the boy to pose nude for money for pictures to be posted on a graphic Internet pornography site and criminals very clearly told victim that he earned a lot of money doing exactly the same thing. What if the victim’s mother could not have been able to get access to those emails? Imagine the mental state of the innocent who is going through such situations!

Well, the ideal solution for parents to prevent their children from falling victim to such Internet-borne child predators is, knowing where your child is wandering in the Internet. I have heard about many parents logging onto social networking sites like Facebook to spy on what their children are doing. They did it to avoid having ‘awkward conversations’ with the children but I feel the reason here is also that they feel it is the only way they could find out about their lives. Yes, ‘overprotective’ instincts are the reason… and I respect that!

On the other hand, majority of the cases are found where children know more about computers than their parents do; they even know how to hide things. At times I feel the need to pull in some kind of law enforcement to make sure that parents are educated enough about computers and the Internet so as to safeguard their children. It’s a new age. Hence parents need to be alert!

Children on the other hand may feel that their privacy gets disturbed with parents doing so. And I have come across few groups on face book such as ‘For the love of god-don’t let parents join Facebook’, with more than 7,700 group members. Well, all can say is that this is the world we live in now!

So if you feel that your child is spending a lot of time on the Internet, I recommended you to use a good Internet Security Suite that offers you with an effective ‘parental control’ feature. Because as a parent, it is your duty to take control of the website/content they are viewing or gathering information and e-security plays a major role in this. If the computer is secured and protected with the good security suite then the website/content can be guarded and children’s interest can be taken care off. There are innumerable websites that contain adult content, games and objectionable pictures or movies that can create a long lasting impression on these tender minds. Hence, a good security suite would help the parents as well as their children to answer the questions only relevant to their age and interest and the website/content which is not required can be filtered.

Also, if possible computers at home should be in places where you can walk by and see the screen, not in children’s bedrooms behind closed doors. Also a good idea is to set up all computers and be the administrators so you as a parent can control access to all its parts and programs. Avoid children being the administrators of their computers. They are capable enough to control their parents’ access to it, allowing things to be hidden!

Quite smart enough… right! 🙂

Take care of your Lifeline…!


When we say the advancement of technology has influenced humanity in the various aspects of life that governs almost all acts of man… out of some of the few important inventions, I find Credit Cards as the prominent.

Just because you don’t have cash so don’t pay cash… but still you buy and when you use this credit card, with just that one swipe… assures that you have paid the bill. See it builds that trust… though no actual hard cash transaction!

I call Credit cards as ‘The Financial Lifeline’ because of their ability to pay for us when we don’t have cash. One of the laws of nature that we all have noticed or rather experienced is that, when we have something valuable, people around try to take advantage of that and if it is not possible directly, they try fraudulent ways. Isn’t it?

Well, that’s the same case with Credit Cards also. Every now and then we hear criminals behind the credit card, some or the other ways.

You may find some one calling from FBI, law firms, banks and other legitimate-sounding agencies and trying to obtain credit card information. On this Phishing call, they try to collect on loans and ask you to fax your important information to pay the debt. And if not you are not co-operative, chances of being threatened with legal action, arrest, and in some cases, physical violence are possible. Sometimes all this is done by the automated phone messages, also known as ROBOCALLS, which serves as a reminder to us to pay off our debt.

At times we think that, “Why me?” or “Why is someone behind my credit card information?” But let me tell you, all these Phishing scam artists aren’t targeting any one person in particular, rather they send out mass emails, make mass robocalls, or mail out mass letters in hopes of getting someone to bite on their scam. To prove their fraudulent activity legitimate, they will usually mention the name of an actual bank, hoping that you are the customer of this bank. They scare us into giving out our information by claiming there’s a problem with our account and then asking for our account information. Sometimes, a sales pitch outlining lower credit rates is summarized over the telephone. To receive these great rates, all you have to do is give your credit card number to the unknown caller. And if you question the caller, all you get is a ‘click’ and a dial tone as the swindler promptly hangs up!

And one of the recent phishing scam is the use of the unsolicited text messages to get you to provide credit card information to scammers. You receive a text message that appears to be legitimately linked to your bank or credit card lender. The text message informs you about some sort of discrepancy with your credit card account and asks you to send text message or call a phone number that is provided in the message, in order to be able to clear up the confusion. And now, when you do so, you are asked to enter your credit card account information including the security code on your credit card. You may also be asked to provide other identifying information. Of course, the scam is that this text message isn’t coming from your bank at all but rather is a phishing scam designed to fool us to provide credit card information to the one who then plans to use that.

I feel that, scam artists are getting more and more creative day-by-day with their methods of taking advantage of credit card holders. You may have noticed that you have been asked for the three digits on the back of your card, which ensures that you actually have the card in your possession. We feel safe giving out these numbers as these numbers cannot be lifted with skimming or other electronic scamming devices. Though, scam artists know they need to get them if they hope to make any purchases with our card, particularly for making online purchases. So now, with this new scam, the scam artist calls and tells you about some suspicious activity on the card and when you deny those purchases, you are asked to confirm your address and later promised to begin a fraud investigation too. So they over your trust and confidence. And now, you are provided some instructions to call the 800 number on the back of their credit cards and to direct any further questions to the security department. Before finishing the call, however, the scammer will ask you to verify possession of the card by giving the three digit security code on the back of the card. Once you do so, the scammer finally has what he wants! Well, I know, this is particularly troublesome as it is not unusual for a credit card company to contact you if any suspicious activity is observed on the card.

At times the scammer may call you claiming to be working for the fraud department for your bank and tell you that your card was flagged because of an unusual purchase pattern. He may tell you some names the bank that the card is issued through and later ask you if you made the purchase of some ‘X’ amount with a marketing company. When you deny, you will be told that your credit will be sent to you through the mail, and also he verifies your address, adding to his genuinity. This is because he already has all of the credit card information he needs – except for the last three numbers that are located on the back of the card.

And after Phishing, now there is Vishing Scam also for which VoIP services are used to call people and asking them to call the local Central Bank with a toll free number. Once you dial the toll free number, you are asked to provide personal information in order to avoid account deactivation. In case, you blindly do so, Sorry to say that your information is in danger!

To make matter worse, it is a relatively easy scam to pull off. All the scam artist needs is specialized equipment or access to an online service that manipulates caller ID information by making a fake number appear on the recipient’s caller ID. It is easy to get a hold of this machine as it is quite cheap and easily available in the market. On the other hand, selling these cards is perfectly legal because they are sold under the impression that they are to be used for entertainment purposes or personal use. To add to it, the company says it will surrender all documents of users if subpoenaed. All good, however, it does little for the unsuspecting person that receives one of these spoof phone calls and believes it to be legitimate because of the number appearing on the caller ID.

After knowing all this, we feel quite insecure of having a credit card. However, I am sure we cannot just avoid them in our lives. In this case, I feel all we can do is to be quite cautious, as far as out credit card information is concerned.

With credit card phone scams on the rise, its better to avoid rather decide never give credit information over the phone. Rather, tell the caller you will be returning their call via the phone number on the back of the card. Also make sure that you do not reply any emails or pop-up message or telephone call requesting personal or personal financial information such as banking account numbers, or card numbers. If you have received a phishing phone call, contact your bank as well as the local law enforcement agency and provide as many details as possible about the call itself.

In case of receiving Phishing emails, contact the governmental organizations that collects phishing email information in order to help protect the general public or contact Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG). Also, avoid sending you personal or personal financial information through emails. Always use Anti-Virus software which filters the phishing emails. If possible, contact your Internet Service Provider (ISP) about it as well and get the emails blocked from being sent out or by directly sending out a warning to all of their account holders who might be affected. Social media is a great source where we can express our civic responsibility. Hence, try to inform others to help stave off from this type of crime with the help of  Twitter, Google+, etc.  Every little bit helps… isn’t it?

Use some common sense and be a smart Credit card user. It’s always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to dealing with credit card security. It becomes our responsibility to take care of this lifeline when it takes care of us during rough times… right?

Bin laden survived with Malware for terror!


Laden Laden Laden… ufffffff..!        A complete terrorist….

Just after the announcement of the death of the most wanted terrorist, Bin Laden (biggest rather most symbolic news of the year), FBI warned the computer users to be cautious if they receive any mails which contains the photos or videos of Laden’s death. A press release was rotated immediately by FBI which claimed that such mails could contain a malicious Malware which can penetrate into user’s system and spread the users contact list, by affecting the system of users as well as his friend sand family members too!

Seems there is this strange relationship between US and Laden! No doubt, he has been responsible for the sufferings and terror filled hearts of America. Now, with most wanted criminal’s death (which is just a news or …), the other i.e. Cyber criminals has began their part of crime by trying to capture confidential records from computers. You see he leaves a legacy behind him….!

Laden’s death, known to be one of the fastest exploitations of information ever, tricksters started manipulating the news, just after US President Barack Obama’s conference on Laden’s death, and initiated it by inserting Spyware and other Malware into links and graphics designed to draw immediate and widespread attention.

Osama Bin Laden may be dead, but the terror being inflicted in the name of his death by cyber criminals seems to be a threat, truly! Hence, advised by FBI (officially) to adhere caution to prevent becoming a victim of this so called terror while on cyberspace.

More over, a slight impact at the stock market too has been realized with Laden Effect, though the reason may be, investors celebrating Laden’s death!


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