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Online Romance Scams Are On The Rise And Costing Victims Millions, BBB Warns

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With the romance of Valentine’s Day no longer in the air, the Better Business Bureau is bringing singles back to cold, harsh reality. A recent investigation released by the organization reveals the staggering proliferation of online dating scams and the financial devastation left in their wake.

According to the BBB, romance scam victims in the United States and Canada have reported losing nearly $1 billion in the last three years alone. It’s a remarkable number by any standard, but researchers estimate it may represent only a fraction of the actual damage, as many victims are too embarrassed to report their experiences or file complaints with law enforcement.

Jim Hegarty, president of the BBB in Omaha, Nebraska, simply called the number “astronomical.”

12 Chinese Dating Apps Shuttered For Using Bots Posing As Women

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Dating apps run by 21 firms in China have been shut down amid allegations of fraud affecting hundreds of thousands of customers.

According to the Modern Express newspaper, police have arrested more than 600 suspects operating across 13 provinces after it was revealed that some of their messages purporting to be from female users were in fact being automatically generated by computer programs.

The investigation began in August 2017, after one app was suspected of fraudulently charging customers to view pornographic videos that did not exist. When users complained, customer service representatives were instructed to invent excuses such as a malfunctioning mobile version or poor internet speed. Users would then be charged again each time they tried to view the imaginary content.

Ashley Madison Is In Trouble Again, This Time For Exposing Users’ Private Pics

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Life’s short, have an affair. But for the love of two-timing tricksters everywhere, don’t do it on Ashley Madison.

Following the catastrophic hack that hit the company in 2015, the dating site for extramarital action is in hot water again - this time for exposing a large portion of its cheating clientele’s private photos.

A team of security researchers has revealed that “poor technical and logical implementations” has left many images from Ashley Madison users vulnerable to exposure online. Due to these flaws, they wrote in a report, approximately 64% of the site’s private (and often explicit) pictures are accessible.

Cybersecurity 101: What You Need To Know To Stay Safe Online

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October is Cyber Security Awareness Month, an annual campaign to raise awareness about staying safe online. From gaming, to social media, to online dating, we live in a world that is more connected than ever before. The internet touches almost all aspects of daily life, whether you realize it or not. Most of the time it makes our lives better, but on some unlucky occasions, it does the opposite.

Scammers use digital tools like online dating to lure in unsuspecting victims and their tactics become more sophisticated all the time. If you don’t learn how to protect yourself, you could be putting yourself at risk for emotional, financial, or even physical harm, With Cyber Security Awareness Month just passed, now is the perfect time to talk about prevention.

Bumble Will Soon Verify Users’ Identity With Selfies

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Bumble has been making big moves this year. First, in an effort to even the playing field, the app announced that male users must respond to women’s messages within 24 hours or they lose the match. CEO Whitney Wolfe also announced plans to take Bumble beyond dating into the world of business networking.

The company’s latest update is designed to prevent its users from falling prey to catfishers. How they intend to do it is the fun part.

Bumble’s new plan to outsmart scammers is a photo feature that prompts users to verify their accounts by submitting selfies. Yes, it’s 2016 and selfies are here to save us all.

Ashley Madison Faces An FTC Probe And A Serious Reboot

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Big changes and big problems are on their way for Ashley Madison. The hits keep coming after the adultery dating site’s high-profile hack last year.

First, the bad news. Ashley Madison is back in hot water thanks to a U.S. Federal Trade Commission investigation and a flood of lawsuits over the site’s use of “fembots” to lure cheating men. An Ernst and Young report confirmed that Avid Life Media, owner of Ashley Madison, used fake dating profiles to impersonate women and scam unwitting male users into entering their credit card information.

According to Gizmodo, Ashley Madison created more than 70,000 female bots in a “sophisticated, deliberate, and lucrative fraud.” The faux females would initiate chats with men by saying things like “Hmmmm, when I was younger I used to sleep with my friend’s boyfriends. I guess old habits die hard although I could never sleep with their husbands.”

Avid claims it shut down the bot accounts in the United States, Canada and Australia in 2014, and by late 2015 in the rest of the world. However, some U.S. users say they exchanged messages with foreign fembots until late in 2015. Now a handful of such users have filed class action suits against the company.

A recent statement from Avid Life Media indicates how the company plans to proceed. The statement announces "a new direction and total repositioning" of the service, with newly appointed chief executive Rob Segal and president James Millership at the helm.

"Our new team is committed to taking care of our members and to building on our portfolio of unique and open-minded online dating brands," said Millership. "Millions of people have continued to connect on our sites during the past year and they deserve a discreet, open-minded community where they can connect with like-minded individuals."

Millership reinforced that bots will no longer be used at Avid Life Media and Ashley Madison. The company has also stepped up security and hired a cyber-security team to implement new safeguards and monitoring. Both Millership and Segal say they do not know the focus of the FTC investigation.

Former users of Ashley Madison may notice other key changes. The site has undergone significant makeover, with a new “look and feel” that is distinctly less obvious about the adultery theme.

"Ashley Madison today is about so much more than infidelity, it's about all kinds of adult dating," the website says. It remains to be seen if its 46 million members agree.