In cybersecurity, Valentine’s Day always heralds one thing: a scam wave washing across the digital landscape.
Threat actors are always looking to defraud digital citizens ahead of Feb. 14, some last-minute shopping for a loved one or the need to connect with someone could turn into a dangerous mash-up.
In 2023, the mid-February celebration of love is preceded by a deluge of unsolicited correspondence that aims to lure people into giving out personal information or purchasing a romantic gift for their partner.
Some 83% of Valentine’s-themed spam emails scanned by Bitdefender filters between Jan. 22 and Feb. 8 were marked as scams, according to our Antispam Lab. Even with a rough start, the Valentine’s-themed spam rate increased considerably during the past week, with notable spikes between 6 and 8 of February (see Figure 1).
As expected, scammers were keen on targeting predominantly English-speaking consumers, with the United States hit by 45% of the correspondence, followed by Ireland at 7% and the UK at 5%.
Fraudulent correspondence also ended up in Australia and countries across Europe and the Asia-Pacific region (see Figure 2).
A glance at this year’s Valentine’s Day spam landscape reveals that cybercriminals stick to recycling past shenanigans, repurposing old spam campaigns to exploit consumers’ interest. We’ve noticed fraudulent offers for jewelry, flower arrangements and cosmetics, as well as decade-old scam emails promoting male enhancement pills and “science-backed” techniques “studied by scientists from Harvard, Yale, and Oxford” to help spice up your loved life.
People looking for love, were also among the preferred targets for spammers, with most Valentine’s Day scam correspondence split between traditional phishing emails and online dating schemes.
One example, which cited the war in Ukraine, targeted single men in the UK. The scammers advertise an online dating platform where they can meet some of “the most beautiful women in the world.”
Other analyzed samples include a phony survey offering participants a flower arrangement valued at $100, teddy bears and jewelry.
Samples of Valentine’s Day-themed spam:
How can you stay safe online on Valentine’s
Valentine’s Day is an important event in the calendar of cybercrooks who exploit the habit of gift purchasing and dating in February. If you still haven’t bought your partner or romantic interest a gift this year, or if you’re thinking of trying your luck at online dating, make sure to follow strict cyber hygiene to protect your money and data:
Add an extra layer of security and privacy to your devices when shopping for Valentine’s Day gifts with Bitdefender's all-in-one security plans. With anti-phishing and advanced threat detection to block nasty internet threats, ransomware protection, VPN for safe shopping, dedicated Password Manager, and identity theft protection (depending on chosen plans), you can steer clear of malicious attacks and protect your identity and money.