Valentine's Day is supposed to be a romantic occasion, but those looking for love online are urged to exercise caution as cyber criminals set their sights on vulnerable singles.
"Scammers use holidays and special days, such as Valentine's Day, as a way to target victims," product specialist with Kaspersky Lab ANZ, Wayne Kirby, said.
"They know people will be buying flowers, ordering gifts, and even looking for dates online, so they set traps for people looking for love."
Fraudsters were attracted by the millions of users registered with online dating sites. Spam emails inviting the reader "to meet a nice young girl" or just "spend a night" are common, but were often in no way related to the major dating portals.
By clicking on the links in those emails, users ran the risk of infecting their computer with spyware, which was usually downloaded instead of the promised photos.
"If you don't know the source of that link is legit, then don't click on it - it's spam regardless of whether it's online or in your email," Need a Nerd nationwide operations manager Bill Brown said. "The danger is, if you follow any links and they ask you to do something. Typically they will download some sort of spyware and that's where you run into trouble."
Phishing attacks, where scammers attempted to acquire information such as usernames, passwords or credit card details, posed another threat. Another developing trend were groomers, who spent time building a trusting relationship with multiple victims to gather information.
Meanwhile, Valentine's Day is more than a celebration of love and romance for Hawke's Bay women throwing their weight behind, "One Billion Rising". The worldwide event aims to see 1 billion women across the globe rise against the violence and abuse of women.
People (including men) are welcome to join a Napier V-Day celebration, including a walk from Clive Square to Marine Parade, where an excerpt from Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues will be presented and the message of One Billion Rising shared. Dance steps to the One Billion Rising anthem, Break the Chain are available on the V-Day website: www.vday.org.
Those taking part should meet at Clive Square in Napier by 9.30am.