SecurityBrief New Zealand - Technology news for CISOs & cybersecurity decision-makers
Story image
Norton's Genie: An AI tool to combat online dating scams
Wed, 14th Feb 2024

With the rise in the use of online dating applications, tech-induced romance scams have become an unfortunate reality of the digital age. These scams, while not new, are using technology in increasingly creative and convincing ways to trick unsuspecting love seekers, causing financial losses and emotional distress.

Norton is an expert in Cyber Safety and part of Gen, a global company dedicated to powering Digital Freedom with a family of trusted consumer brands. Norton empowers millions of individuals and families with award-winning protection for their devices, online privacy, and identity. 

To mitigate these scams, Norton has developed Genie, an AI-powered scam detection application. Genie serves as an additional barricade against cyber criminals, specifically when interactions move from a dating site into personal mediums like email or texts.

The Genie app comprehends the nature of messages using a screenshot and then analyses its author's intentions, language style, diction, spelling, logical sequencing, suspicious links or attachments. For instance, if a "love interest" requests a click on a link for monetary transactions, Genie can validate its legitimacy.

According to Norton, there are several strategies that can help individuals avoid falling for romance scams. The first defence is to become familiar with the warning signs. These could include online profiles that seem too good to be true and individuals who live a significant distance away or are unavailable on other platforms. They may display suspicious behaviour such as moving too fast, love bombing, avoiding video chats, or consistently cancelling plans at the last minute. Requesting money or convincing you about certain investments are also red flags.

Reviewing and adjusting your online presence is another effective strategy. The more information scammers can glean about you, the more effective their tactics can be. For better privacy, consider using different usernames or emails across various platforms.

The third strategy involves setting up a phone or video call at an early stage. Since facial interactions can effectively validate the authenticity of an individual, it's a good way to fish out scammers who consistently avoid such interactions.

Fourthly, do thorough background checks on your "cyber sweetheart". For instance, inspect their social media accounts for blank profiles or lack of connections. You can also leverage Google's reverse image search feature to check if their photos are used on other sites. This can be easily done by copying and pasting the image into images.google.com.

Lastly, Norton strongly advises against transferring money to someone you have never met in person, especially if the interaction has been solely online. Similarly, refrain from sharing your financial information, reloading a cash card, or sending gifts or money without a face-to-face meeting. Also, make it a rule to never wire money or pay anyone with gift cards.

These measures, combined with technology like Norton's Genie, can contribute significantly towards smarter, safer online dating experiences.