WCCO Twin Cities Radio -- Oct 16 -- Thousands of people find the love of their lives on online dating sites. Unfortunately, many users of those sites are also finding themselves to be victims of crime. There has been a substantial rise in the number of users who have been ripped off by potential love matches. Joining us now is Greg Pierson, CEO of iovation a company that helps businesses combat fraud.
Q: It would seem to me that people are a little more open and wanting love so that might make them more susceptible to the this kind of scam, no?
A: Exactly right.
Q: Can you explain how it works and what happens?
A: There are a number of problems that the internet creates for us. Namely folks can go on there and be anyone they want to be and adopt new personas, etc. And when folks do “bad things” nothing stops them from coming back and pretending to be somebody else.
So there are layers of problems here. One problem is folks that use stolen identities and credit cards to acquire access to these services and that by itself is a problem for the business and not necessarily a problem for other users directly.
A common practice is to set up a profile that looks like its halfway across the country or maybe even in another part of the world and to appear very, very interested in the person that is ultimately being scammed. And to very slowly but surely gain some confidence and then ask a favor. Hey I’m behind on my bills or I would really love to fly to see you but I just can’t afford it. Can you split it with me? Oh I missed my flight and I’m sorry I spent that money on the electric bill. Can you do this again?
Q: How hard is it to catch them?
A: Catching the individuals is extremely difficult. Preventing it from ever happening again, that’s what we do. Fortunately preventing it from ever happening again is a little bit easier then getting to the real people. We focus on the computer, on the laptop, the PC, the Mac, the PDA whatever the internet device is that consumers are using to connect to the online businesses that we protect. If one of those devices is used to defraud that business or its customer, that problem can “stick to it” at least digitally in our system. When that computer comes back and when that site reaches out to iovation to say ‘hey what do you know about the reputation of this computer?’ We can say: “Hey, warning guys! That computer was used to defraud you in the past so be advised.”
Q: You can imagine the joy that I felt this morning finding out that I was the nearest next of kin to a couple in England who passed away and had millions of dollars that was just for me.
A: Yes exactly, congratulations!
Q: I didn’t even read that far and put this in the spam. It had a blind CC on it, is that dangerous?
A: Yes and there are lots of clues about those kinds of things. But the golden rule of thumb here is the typical – if it sounds too good to be true.
Consumers need to be increasingly aware of the kinds of services that they’re using online because there absolutely are things that online services can do to protect their community. Online businesses need to take responsibility for their part of this problem as well. And there are absolutely some fantastic services and technology out there that online business can use to protect their customers.
LISTEN THE INTERVIEW HERE