Posts

Teen Tragic Love: Lesson for Parents?

This story is kinda dark. Recently the ID Channel ran an episode called “Forbidden: Dying for Love — Together Forever, Forever Together.”

The 19-year-old was Tony Holt. Let’s call his 15-year-old girlfriend Kristen.

Kristen, 14, Falls Hard for Tony, 18

She met him when he was working at a grocery store. But he also happened to be a senior at her new high school. Prior to meeting him, Kristen knew her mother wouldn’t allow dating till she was 16.

Kristen’s mother eventually learned of the secret relationship and forbad it. The girl and Tony kept seeing each other on the sly. Mama learned of this and again, forbad it. Kristen then pretended the relationship was over and even talked of how she now hated Tony. Her mother was thrilled.

Meanwhile the teens kept sneaking around.

Forbidden love can be funner! Anyway, Mama found out again, stormed into the grocery store and angrily announced to Tony that if he ever went near her daughter again, she’d have him arrested for statutory rape. Which, is in fact statutory rape in many states.

The threat had him really scared about going to prison. He appeared at Mama’s house soon after and apologized for upsetting her and said that he and Kristen were going to cool it and just be friends.

But they continued seeing each other, and Mama discovered photos in Kristen’s bedroom of the two making out. More furious than ever, she forbad any contact. (Kristen’s father was out of the picture.)

Not long after, she got a call at work to come to the house. The police were there. Tony and Kristen were both dead from a gunshot wound to their heads.

A suicide note left by Kristen explained that the only way they could be together was to die and go to heaven where they could live happily ever after. Kristen had also left a suicide message on the answering machine, apologizing for the suicide pact. I’ll bet you didn’t see that one coming. Neither did I.

Questions to Wonder About

  • Why didn’t the teens decide to just avoid sex for three years, after which they could then marry and have up to 70 years of glory together? Abstinence is hardly an extreme move when you pit it against a murder-suicide.
  • What if Kristen’s mother permitted the relationship and even had Tony over every week for dinner? But what if, at the same time, she expressed her disapproval over their sexual relations?
  • What if she had said, “If you get pregnant, you’ll be grounded – by your baby. I won’t report statutory rape, but I also won’t help you out with the baby, either.”

That last warning may sound harsh, but it’s a crapshoot type of warning: It just might work.

Lessons Learned

  • You can’t stop two love-struck teens from seeing each other, so you may as well be civil to the unapproved young man.
  • While it’s important to stand your ground as a parent, there also comes a time when a sweet spot needs to be figured out. After all, not only might there be a suicide pact, but there are quite a few documentaries in which the forbidden young man murdered his girlfriend’s disapproving parents.
  • It’s never too early to teach your children the virtues of delayed gratification.

Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of Identity Theft Privacy: Security Protection and Fraud Prevention: Your Guide to Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft and Computer Fraud. See him knock’em dead in this Security Awareness Training video.

Protect Yourself from Online Dating Scams

$200 million: The amount people were ripped off by online dating scams in a year.

1FDUI: dating while under the influence…of the quest for love…is costly to countless people.

A nytimes.com article notes that this quest impairs judgment, making it easy for con artists to bilk lonely people. Or are some people just plain stupid? But many victims are highly educated.

It all begins with a phony profile that grabs the victim’s attention. The nytimes.com report points out that the scamster uses attractive photos stolen off of other sites.

INTERRUPTION: If he/she is too gorgeous to be true, right-click the image to see where else it appears online! Is “Emilene McKenna” whom she says she is?

These scammers come from anywhere on the globe.

  • They prey upon loneliness, greed and desire.
  • Overseas scam rings
  • Solitary scammers working at home late at night
  • Women, not just men
  • They almost always profess to be in a glamorous or exciting line of work, though occasionally, they’ll pose as a more common person (perhaps to appear less suspicious).
  • People of all ages and walks of life, plus sexual orientations, are targeted.
  • The common denominator is a request for money.
  • Reasons for money requests run the gamut but usually focus on medical bills, legal fees or fees relating to a planned trip to meet the victim (which never occurs).

The nytimes.com article quotes victim specialist Debbie Deem that these con artists are skilled at mirroring the victim’s needs and creating “a sense of intimacy very quickly.” The victim soon becomes convinced that this is their soulmate—and thinks nothing of sending them the requested money.

However, the scammer may reveal their true colors after luring the victim into posing for raunchy photos or videos: The crook threatens to expose these unless the victim sends them money.

Other Facts

  • Being offered a spouse is a growing ruse.
  • Some victims have lost over $400,000.
  • Significant contact from the scammer lauding the victim.

How to Protect Yourself

  • If you haven’t already figured that out after reading this article…I’m very worried.
  • In addition to right-clicking the photo, copy and paste the profile’s narrative into a search engine and see if it shows up anywhere else like on an unrelated person’s blog or another dating profile under a different name.
  • NEVER SEND MONEY! Think: They’ve gotten this far in life without your financial help; they’ll survive without it.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to BestHomeSecurityCompanys.com discussing burglar proofing your home on Fox Boston. Disclosures.

How to prevent your Pics from being lifted: Part 1 of 2

You need not be a celebrity or some big wig to suffer the devastating fallout of your online images (and videos) being stolen or used without your permission.

10DSo how does someone steal your image or use it without your permission?

Hacking

  • Hacking is one way, especially if passwords are weak and the answers to security questions can easily be figured out (e.g., “Name of your first pet,” and on your Facebook page there’s a picture of you: “My very first dog, Snickers”).
  • Malware can be installed on your device if the operating system, browser or security software is out of date.
  • But hackers may also get into a cloud service depending on their and your level of security.

Cloud Services

  • In 2014, the images of celebrities and others were stolen from their iCloud accounts. At the time, two factor authentication was not available to consumers.
  • Apple did not take responsibility, claiming that the hackers guessed the passwords of the victims. This is entirely possible as many use the same passwords for multiple accounts. It is reported that Jennifer Lawrence’s and Kate Upton’s passwords really were123qwe and Password1, respectively.

Social Media

  • Got a pretty avatar for your Facebook page? Do you realize how easy it is for someone to “Save image as…”?
  • Yup, someone could right-click on your provocative image, save it and use it for some sex site.
  • And it’s not just images of adults being stolen. Images of children have been stolen and posted on porn sites.
  • Stolen photos are not always racy. A stolen image could be of an innocent child smiling with her hands on her cheeks.
  • The thief doesn’t necessarily post his loot on porn or sex sites. It could be for any service or product. But the point is: Your image is being used without your authorization.

Sexting

  • Kids and teens and of course adults are sending sexually explicit images of each other via smartphone. These photos can end up anywhere.
  • Applications exist that destroy the image moments after it appears to the sender.
  • These applications can be circumvented! Thus, the rule should be never, ever, ever send photos via smartphone that you would not want your fragile great-grandmother or your employer to view.

How can you protect your digital life?

  • Long, strong passwords—unique for every single account
  • Change your passwords regularly.
  • Firewall and up-to-date antivirus software
  • Make sure the answers to your security questions can’t be found online.
  • If any of your accounts have an option for two-factor authentication, then use it.
  • Never open attachments unless you’re expecting them.
  • Never click links inside e-mails unless you’re expecting them.

Stay tuned to Part 2 of How to prevent your Pics from being lifted to learn more.

Robert Siciliano is an identity theft expert to TheBestCompanys.com discussing  identity theft prevention.

Dating Extortion Scams On The Rise

The Internet Crime Complaint Center has recently received reports regarding a scam that baits individuals into intimate online conversations and then extorting them for financial gain. The scam was initiated after the victims met someone online, such as on a dating site, and were asked to connect via a specific online social network. Shortly after, the conversations became sexual in nature. Later, victims received text messages, either containing their names, asking if it was them or containing a statement that indicated their names were posted on a particular website.

The victims were provided a link to a page on the website that claimed they were a “cheater.” Photos of the victims and their telephone numbers were also posted. There was an option to view and buy the posted conversations for $9. Victims were also given the option to have their names and conversations removed for $99. Some were even told that once the payment was made, the information would be removed within an hour and the website would not allow anyone to post anything pertaining to the victims’ names again. However, reports do not indicate that the information was ever removed.

If more online dating sites incorporated device reputation checks for suspicious computer history and investigated for characteristics consistent with fraudulent use, they’d be able to deny criminals, often before the first time they tried to sign up.

If you use an online dating service, be on guard for scams. Stick to legitimate, well-known websites, and get referrals from friends who have successfully met romantic partners online. But never let your guard down.

When creating your dating profile, never post personal information, including your middle name, full address, phone number or entire birth date.

To vet potential dates, look for information about them elsewhere online, and confirm that it matches the information in their online dating profiles.

If a potential date asks for a loan or any financial information, report them to the dating website immediately.

Robert Siciliano, personal security and identity theft expert contributor to iovation. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Mobile was Hacked! See him knock’em dead in this identity theft prevention video. Disclosures.

Lonely Hearts Target of Dating Scams

Online dating websites are aware that scammers use their platforms to defraud men and women looking for love. With the holidays around the corner, many unsuspecting people will be used and abused by scammers, who will break their hearts, their bank accounts, or both.

Many of the stories of heartbreak and fraud look like this:

“After chatting via email, they arranged to meet, but their plans ‘collapsed’ when he told her that he had been held by tax authorities over an issue while he was attempting to fly out on business.

The so-called ‘Mr. Fields’ then asked the nurse for financial help, using emails from his fake solicitor to convince the nurse that this was merely an oversight and that his client would pay her back.”

No matter who someone is, what they say, or how they look, don’t automatically trust them.

Discussion of money or loans in any capacity is a red flag.

Don’t let your heart get in the way of basic common sense.

Sometimes loneliness trumps our ability to see the truth. Keep your head up and be attentive to people’s intentions.  In context of the “Color Code of Mental Awareness” this would mean operating in the yellow zone (not in the white zone) while interacting with others on dating and social networking sites.

One company looking out for you behind the scenes is iovation Inc.  They work with dating sites and social networks around the world to rid their sites of bad actors.  They have stopped more than 50 million attempts of online scams and solicitations, spam, identity mining and fake profiles for their clients. All of this happens behind the scenes to keep the site and its customers safe.

Robert Siciliano, personal security and identity theft expert contributor to iovation, discusses Dating Security on E! True Hollywood Stories.  Disclosures

 

Grandmother Taken for $5400 in Online Dating Scam

All my life, I’ve been waiting for someone to give me a million dollars in diamonds, which have been willed to me by my long-lost Somalian stepfather, who’s supposedly the third generation dictator under the humble Mr. George Kinneus the Third. Or something like that.

If you receive an offer resembling that one, run for the hills.

This is what happened to the 55-year-old grandmother in New Zealand, who was simply looking for love online. She was checking out her prospects on Match.com, the most popular dating site. The grandmother got a “wink,” which is like a “poke” on Facebook, from “kiwibloke25.” According to his profile, “kiwibloke25” was a 55-year-old man seeking a serious relationship with a woman between 49 and 68 years old.

In his first message, he told the grandmother that she “[seemed] to be the type of person he [was] looking for,” and gave her his personal email address. Soon they were exchanging emails and talking on the phone. The man shared numerous intimate details about his life.

Exchanges like these lure unsuspecting victims into scammers’ traps. In this case, “kiwibloke25” claimed to have been robbed by Somalian gangsters while traveling through Dubai, and asked his victim for $5400 to cover the duty on some diamonds he had supposedly purchased. She wired him the money but became suspicious when he asked for more, to pay for a company to securely transfer the diamonds back to New Zealand. She then discovered that “kiwibloke25,” as she thought she knew him, never existed at all.

If you use an online dating service, be on guard for scams. Stick to legitimate, well-known websites, and get referrals from friends who have successfully met romantic partners online. But never let your guard down.

When creating your dating profile, never post personal information, including your middle name, full address, phone number or entire birth date.

To vet potential dates, look for information about them elsewhere online, and confirm that it matches the information in their online dating profiles.

If a potential date asks for a loan or any financial information, report them to the dating website immediately.

Dating sites could protect users by incorporating device identification, device reputation and risk profiling services to keep scammers out. Oregon-based iovation Inc. offers the world’s leading device reputation service, called ReputationManager 360.  It has been recognized over the past few years for “Best New Technology” used by the internet dating industry. This service is established and has protected over 2 billion online dating activities for its clients and has flagged 2.7 million of those identified as scams and solicitations, spam, identity mining/phishing, profile representation and other abuses.  Stopping scams and abusive behavior upfront greatly helps online dating sites not only protect their brand reputation, but most importantly protect their active members.

According to Industry Consultant, Mark Brooks, “The dating industry uses three lines of defense against scammers and abuse: automated software defense, user flagging and customer/abuse teams. iovation’s technology has enabled many dating sites to work together to beat scammers.”

Robert Siciliano, personal security and identity theft expert contributor to iovation, discusses dating security on E! True Hollywood Stories. (Disclosures)

Should Dating Sites Require Background Checks?

It’s no secret that there are kooky people in the world, and those kooky people seem to gravitate to the Internet. My theory is that those with ulterior motives relish the anonymity of the web, which allows them to lure in their victims more easily. I can see why they’d appreciate that. It’s easier to lie online.

There’s no body language, no intonation in one’s voice, and no emotional connection to the other person. It’s harder for a person’s sixth sense to connect with an avatar.

The Internet provides a great cover for predators.

In Connecticut, State Representative Mae Flexer introduced a bill designed to make online dating safer. “Sexual predators now have a new tool to find victims — Internet dating websites,” she told the General Law Committee.

And in Texas, State Representative Diane Patrick, is proposing that online dating sites be required to disclose to members whether or not background checks are done, which she believes would make online dating safer.

Online dating sites argue that people should use common sense, and point out that not all background checks are entirely accurate. What if the person’s profile is made from stolen information in the first place? The fact is, online dating sites are selling a lot more than an opportunity to connect. They market to the public, inviting them to find love using their website. And they give users an air of legitimacy by default. Posting a profile on a mainstream dating site implies a certain level of credibility.

Background checks would be a good start, and can often provide someone with all they need to make an informed decision. But they may also create a false sense of security and cannot be relied upon completely, especially when people lie about their identity.

Dating sites could incorporate another layer of protection, such as checking the computer used to create the profile in the first place. Device reputation spots online evildoers in a fraction of a second, by examining the computer, smartphone, or tablet used to connect to the dating website or social network. If a device is associated with unwanted behavior, such as spam, online scams, fake profiles, bullying or predatory behavior, the website can reject the new account or transaction. If the computer or smart phone passes the first test of not being associated with unwanted behavior, further identity and background checks would be performed. If the device does not pass, there is no need to pay for further checks.

According to Jon Karl, Vice President of Marketing at iovation Inc., “We stop 150,000 online fraudulent activities every single day. At one of our international dating clients’ websites, one out of five profiles created are found to be fraudulent. We help protect their brand and keep their members safe by identifying the bad actors upfront before they have a chance to come in contact with legitimate members.”

That being said, it would be a good and prudent practice for any online dating site to further vet and screen users. It won’t keep all the bad apples out, but it will significantly reduce those who are currently using the system for no good.

Robert Siciliano, personal security and identity theft expert contributor to iovation, discusses Safe Personal Dating on Tyra. (Disclosures)

Online Dating Sites a Haven For Criminals

I’m weird. I know this because people tell me all the time. They tell me I’m weird because I like to do things that most people don’t. I like to do things that are different, and different usually means weird. One of my little weird things is posing as a woman. Yup. Read on.

I like to expose the flaws in our systems, to find what makes us vulnerable. Much of my “research” (or my “antics,” as some would say) is prompted by my desire to learn more about the scumbags of society, who prey on others.

So I sign up for online dating sites, create a profile as a woman, and wait for men to contact me. My research has led me to discover some particularly shady methods scammers use to target emotionally vulnerable victims. The most common is an advanced fee scam involving a wire transfer.

A divorced mother of three in Britain was taken for £80,000 by a scammer posing as a US soldier. It began when a man who called himself Sergeant Ray Smith introduced himself on a dating website. Soon they were chatting and emailing regularly, and then he was calling her on the phone and asking her to wire him money.

Twenty years ago, online dating wasn’t even a thought. Ten years ago, it was weird. Five years ago, it was new and exciting. Today, it’s as normal as milk and bread. If you are looking for a mate online, you will eventually find someone. Most of my friends who’ve tried it were successful. But by the time a new technology becomes normalized, scammers, who are usually ahead of the curve, are lying in wait. As online dating gradually gained popularity and acceptance, scammers were coming up with ways to take advantage and perfecting their craft. And now it’s a full-time job for them. They know all the new scams and come up with better ways of executing the old ones.

It blows me away that these scams are even possible. In many cases, the same scammers maintain multiple profiles on different dating sites, and the dating sites do almost nothing to prevent or police this.

We caught up with anti-fraud provider iovation to see what dating sites around the world were reporting about fraudster activities.

In the last 90 days, 230,000 fraud and abuse attempts were reported to iovation from dating sites alone, including:

•   Spamming – 90,000

•   Scams and solicitations – 30,000

•   Inappropriate content – 20,000

•   Chat abuse – 17,000

•   Profile misrepresentation – 15,000

•   Credit card fraud – 14,000

•   Identity mining / phishing attempts – 12,000

iovation has many more categories specific to dating, including bullying, account takeovers, under age members, and so on. What’s unique to their globally shared system is that their clients can choose what to take action on or not.  For example, a dating site may choose to not care about cheating in online gaming sites, but set up rules to trigger multiple account creations looking for profile misrepresentation.  Dating sites can specify which type of behavior to protect their users from.

If more sites incorporated device reputation checks for suspicious computer history and investigated for characteristics consistent with fraudulent use, they’d be able to deny criminals, often before the first time they tried to sign up.

Robert Siciliano, personal security and identity theft expert contributor to iovation, discusses Safe Personal Dating on Tyra. (Disclosures)

Summer Heat: Online Dating Scams

Love online. 20 years ago it wasn’t even a thought. 10 years ago it was weird. 5 years ago it was new and exciting. Today it’s as normal as milk and bread. If you are looking for a mate online you will eventually hit pay dirt. Most of my friends who tried it, succeeded at it.

When anything technology gets to the “normal stage” that’s also when scammers are well dug in. Scammers are usually much more ahead of the curve. When it was weird, they paid attention and the ones that had the foresight scammed, but when it was hot, they were figuring out all the different ways to pull the wool over their victim’s eyes and getting good at it. They ramped up and were beginning to perfect their craft.

Today, it’s a full time job for them. They know all the new scams and get better at revisiting the old ones.

Recently I signed up for a particular social network so nobody else would take my name. I was immediately contacted by a woman who enjoyed my profile on the social network. Problem was I hadn’t really set up my profile. But she liked it nonetheless.

So I responded “Thanks!” Then, she started to write me every day, and would put lots,and,lots of commas,in her sentances. Her spelling socked and HER capiTal leTTers were all,over,the,place. Plus,The spacing,    of her,words was weird,and from experience,dealing with scsammers,overseas I could tell,she didn’t really,like,my,profile. She wasn’t really a she, But a he, probably named Zambabooboo.

After communicating with “her” for 2 days she was talking love and marriage. After 4 days she wanted desperately to see me. On the 7th day she asked me for money for a plane ticket so she could come see me. I declined.

Robert Siciliano is a Personal Security Expert and Adviser to Intelius.com. See him discussing Safe Personal Dating on Tyra.

For more information see Intelius at Sex Offender Check and Date Check to reduce your chances of encountering a bad guy. (Disclosures)

Online Dating Liar Liar is 5’4, not 5’10

But who cares? Apparently the dude with the 6 inch height difference did. And he figured the lady he was about to meet via chatting in an online dating service cared as well. Maybe she did, maybe she didn’t. Either way he started out in the relationship lying.

Many single people have been turning to the Internet for dating services. You can meet someone with the same interests, hobbies, and lifestyle. Dating services allow you to browse profile pages to shop for a potential mate while chatting it up with potential dates. In the process you are selling yourself as they are deciding whether to buy. And like a car on a “preowned” lot that was recovered from the waters of hurricane Katrina, the truth is often suppressed. .

But what happens when you decide to meet someone and you begin to discover little white lies? Realize that little white lies are often a front for big darker lies.

What else is this person hiding?   Are they married, have kids? Gone bankrupt, been arrested for violence? Or are they a registered sex offender? Are they unemployed when they said they have a job?

Sometimes the truth hurts and people innocently choose to adopt the “what they don’t know won’t hurt them” philosophy and simply don’t cough up the truth. Nothing good can come of this. This is why it is essential that you do your homework and find out as much about this person as possible to head off any potential heartaches.

Much of what you need to know about your new encounter can be found by doing a quick and easy background check. But don’t stop there. Google them, check out their Facebook page and dig as deep as you need to verify as much as possible to determine if their nose is growing.

Robert Siciliano is a Personal Security Expert and Adviser to Intelius.com. See him discussing Dating Security on E! True Hollywood Stories.

For more information see Intelius at Sex Offender Check and Date Check to reduce your chances of encountering a bad guy. (Disclosures)