E-Threats

No More PORN?! 7 Type of Valentine’s Scams to Avoid this Year

Pornography is no longer scammers’ favorite bait! After analyzing a wave of scams spreading worldwide before the Valentine’s Day celebration, Bitdefender researchers have found that Valentine-themed spam containing links to pornographic videos has fallen to under 1% in 2015.

But that doesn’t mean scammers have gone all romantic – they’re just resorting to other old tricks to leave them heart-broken, and broke.

Some seasonal scams never get old. These include fake offers for travels, heart-shaped diamond jewelry, clothes, personalized e-cards, restaurant coupons and more. Here are some of the most popular Valentine’s scams of the season:

1. Travel offers

Watch out for email offers promising a romantic getaway for two or plane tickets at unbelievably low prices – you can end up paying for your trip and staying at home, too. Even offers from reputable brands should be attentively investigated.

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2. Restaurant discounts

They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, but be careful not to order adware and malware with your pizza! These sites can collect your location and other very personal details which reveal your identity to thieves.

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Wine-tasting events have become quite popular, and identity thieves were quick to seize on the opportunity. They want to attract wine-lovers using names of celebrities like Johnny Depp. Once the users click, they can be redirected to a spoofed site that steals their bank details.

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3. Donation scams

Scammers are known to take advantage of people’s good will on any occasion and Valentine’s is no exception. Emails claiming to be from PETA or UNICEF encourage users to make a donation in the name of someone they love, but the money will most probably end up in hackers’ hands.

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4. Phony jewelry

Diamonds, a girl’s best friend, can prove to be the worst of enemies. This type of scams are extremely popular these days, so users should research sellers’ sites before paying a lot of cash for a fake diamond ring or other precious items.

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5.Gift shopping

Scammers know everyone is shopping for the perfect Valentine gift, be it flowers, watches or clothing items.

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6. Personalized e-cards

Compared to last year, we can see a decrease in tricks inviting users to download Valentine’s Day wallpapers or special greeting cards that redirect to fraudulent websites.

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7. Mysterious items

Some scammers have gone completely undercover, luring users with a mysterious offer in hopes of stirring their curiosity.

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As tempted as you may be, don’t rush into buying gifts over the Internet without a detailed preliminary check. Remember these simple security tips:

  • Avoid buying anything while connected to a public Wi-Fi network. If you must, use a dedicated payment solution such as Bitdefender Safepay to securely connect to your bank account or e-payment website from an unencrypted hotspot.
  • Ignore spam messages. Ask friends for advice or check the legitimacy of an online shop on forums by simply googling it.
  • Choose only web shops with SSL certificates to confirm their identity. An URL starting with HTTPS and a padlock at the end should indicate you are on the right page.
  • Use an antivirus solution that can handle bogus advertisements and get rid of them for you. And always keep your browser, your software and your antivirus updated. Banker Trojans and rootkit-based malware steal banking information, transactions or even log into your online bank accounts while laying low on your system.

This article is based on the spam samples provided by Adrian MIRON, Bitdefender Spam Researcher.

Note: All product and company names mentioned herein are for identification purposes only and are the property of, and may be trademarks of, their respective owners.

About the author

Alexandra GHEORGHE

Alexandra started writing about IT at the dawn of the decade - when an iPad was an eye-injury patch, we were minus Google+ and we all had Jobs. She has since wielded her background in PR and marketing communications to translate binary code to colorful stories that have been known to wear out readers' mouse scrolls. Alexandra is also a social media enthusiast who 'likes' only what she likes and LOLs only when she laughs out loud.