Your Love Might Be an AI: Experts Warn of Eerie Signs
As Valentine’s Day approaches, many are turning to dating apps in search of romance. However, cybersecurity experts have sounded the alarm on the rise of AI-powered romance scams on platforms like Tinder, Hinge, and Bumble. These scams, which involve creating fake personas to win over victims, are becoming increasingly sophisticated thanks to artificial intelligence.
“Everybody is at risk because AI scams target people based on their interest and online presence,” says Iksander Sanchez-Rola, Director of Privacy Innovation at cybersecurity firm Gen. He highlights that especially older adults, who might be new to the online dating scene, are at a higher risk of being deceived.
With AI, scammers can create convincing fake profiles complete with photos, audio, and videos known as deepfakes. These tools have significantly lowered the barrier for criminals, enabling them to scam individuals from across the globe. “AI has not only given scammers the ability to create very convincing profiles, but it also allows them to scam more people and do it from anywhere in the world,” Sanchez-Rola elaborates.
According to Sanchez-Rola, these cybercriminals employ AI to mimic native speakers convincingly, adding another layer of deceit to their scams. The end goal is often financial, with scammers typically asking for money, banking details, or for victims to make purchases on their behalf.
Signs You Might Be Talking to an AI
There are several red flags to watch out for to avoid falling victim to these sophisticated scams:
- Requests for Money or Financial Assistance: Be cautious of anyone asking for financial help, especially if you have not met them in person.
- Destiny or Fate: If someone claims your meeting was “destined” or “fated,” and they quickly report a personal crisis, it might be a ploy.
- Too Good to Be True: A profile that seems perfect might actually be artificial. Pay attention to bizarre shadows, a hollow gaze, or any extra appendages in photos, which are typical signs of AI-generated images.
- Poor Composition or Choppy Sentences: While AI text can be grammatically correct, it might lack the natural flow of human writing. Typos, poor grammar, and choppy sentences are indications of AI.
- Inconsistencies Across Platforms: A profile that cannot be found elsewhere online or has different names and descriptions on different sites is suspicious.
“The more scammers know about you, the more they know how to lure you,” says Sanchez-Rola, advising users to keep their dating profiles anonymous and to share limited personal information.
How to Protect Yourself
To avoid getting entangled in a romance scam, never send money to someone you’ve only met online. Always scrutinize images and conversations for signs of AI. If developing a relationship, research the individual’s photo and profile extensively, and insist on video chats early on to verify their authenticity. Be wary of sharing inappropriate photos or financial details, and if requests for these arise, it’s a major red flag.
Setting up a video call is also recommended by Sanchez-Rola as a definitive way to ascertain authenticity. “If they dodge the opportunity, they may be a scammer. If they agree but you notice strange effects, it could be a deepfake,” he cautions.
In the digital age, finding love online is increasingly common, but so are the pitfalls. By being vigilant and aware of the signs, you can protect your heart—and your wallet—from falling victim to an AI-driven romance scam.