Like love itself, Romance Scams are a tale as old as time. Counterfeit Casanovas have been using the language of love to lure their next victim since the beginning of human civilization and Romance Scams have remained a favorite tactic of cybercriminals for one overriding reason - they work. Human beings are hard-wired to react to the promise of love and react strongly.
Unfortunately, this psychological gap in our otherwise rational armor gives cybercriminals a way to reach us and manipulate us into an error prone mindset, leaving us vulnerable to fraud, extortion, theft and loss of PII - to say nothing of heartbreak. In one common scenario, the potential victim connects with an individual on a dating or social media site who claims to be a service member on an overseas deployment. The relationship escalates quickly and before long, the would-be service member claims to be caught in a travel, health or legal situation for which they need the victim to send money either in the form of gift-cards or other cash transfers.
Romance Scams can also extend far beyond small-dollar fraud to affect the business and personal relationships of the victim. Scammers have been known to bait their victims to malicious webpages which infect their devices and can spread to other connected devices and accounts. With this access, the criminal can now not only defraud or extort the victim, but also the victim's employer and their entire business and personal contact lists becomes vulnerable to spear-phishing attacks and data breaches.