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 – 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!

Are the souls really resting in peace?

For every birth, there is death. It’s the law of universe that every life taking birth- some or the other day, becomes a victim of something- may be a disease or accident or any unusual consequences and loses life. But it’s strange – how can someone who is already dead, be a victim!

To a surprise it’s very much true… when it is thought that after a person’s death, only memories are left behind along with his identity (aka his legacy) … the same identity becomes  problem for the deceased. Which means, the dead are also not spared in this cruel world, which we have turned into !!

It so happens that when the family and loved ones are mourning for the death of the loved one and identity theft of the deceased is probably the last thing in their mind…. someone around is planning to take advantage of the death and play with the deceased’s identity. The financial as well as personal information of the deceased is at stake.

The complexity in identity theft is increasing day-by-day. Instead of money mules, thief opens bank accounts in the name of deceased and transfers the money made through bank frauds. The thief is interested in acquiring a dead person’s identity to avoid the risks that would occur if two living people used the same Social Security Number and other details which contribute to identity. Apart from an intention to open new bank accounts for many illegal activities, the other use of this theft can be for terrorism. A typical thief will use the stolen identity of a dead person whose physical description strongly resembles the living thief’s (also called Ghoster) appearance or ethnic background and claims for his own use an existing identity, listed already in government records – an identity that is dormant as its original possessor is dead. These ghosters take advantage of the fact that separate government agencies do not share a total exchange of information and can easily obtain a new passport or Social Security benefits in the name of a dead person.

To discourage identity theft through Phishing and other ways, there are a few simple things one can do and minimize the chances of the deceased fall prey.

First of all, get the Death Certificate and notify Credit Reporting Agencies. Also send official copies of the death certificate to all entities, which had financial relationship with the deceased. Inform the Social Security Administration and any pension issuer about it. Cancel the deceased’s driver’s license with the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles and notify the Direct Marketing Association to put the person’s name on the “deceased do not contact list.

Usually, the family of the deceased would wish to share the information about deceased in an obituary. But someone can easily take advantage of this emotional activity as the thieves easily scan the newspaper for potential victims. In case you plan to do so, make sure that avoid putting the deceased’s exact birth date, exact address and maiden name in the obituary to make things harder for an identity thief. Also, Phishing schemes саn be carried out in person or over the phone, and are delivered online through spam e-mail or pop-up windows.

If possible, secure all the personal and financial documents a person leaves behind including wallet, ID, bank statements, hospital records, old military records, etc which can have information that’s useful to criminals.

Hence, save the deceased from being a victim and let their soul rest in peace!

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