Phishing attack on dating sites was "massive"

Dating sites have become the latest target for phishing emails as a number of campaigns targeting would-be daters have been launched in recent weeks with a variety of frauds resulting.

Net monitoring company Netcraft found that members of a long list of online dating sites including, eHarmony, PlentyOfFish [POF], Zoosk, Christian Mingle and many more have been targeted by the phishing emails that have been able to pilfer various details.

Attackers send emails from hacked websites in order to hide the sender’s identity and any data acquired is then used to befriend online dating users to trick them into handing over cash.

“The most recent attack used a single compromised website to host hundreds of fraudulent PHP scripts, most of which were designed to steal usernames and passwords from users of the most popular dating sites,” explained Netcraft.

Netcraft added the attacks are “massive” and their monitoring services had seen over 100 compromised sites attack alone and it doesn’t correlate with the hackers’ classic preference to target banks with the method as only eight of the 862 fraudulent scripts hit banks.

The scripts that are used to create the phishing emails look like they were produced using a “kit” bought online and Netcraft stated that it could be used by anyone with even a “very basic knowledge of programming”

Each email encourages users to enter a login name and password for the site and if the fraudsters are successful then the details are passed onto the legitimate login page. It’s claimed that fraudsters are aiming to avoid paying charges by stealing accounts that are already paid for and then use them for illegitimate means.

This could mean messaging vulnerable daters in order to build up a relationship before extorting large amounts of money, as has happened in the past. One example given by Netcraft is of Karen and Tracy Vasseur from Colorado, US, who stole over $1 million [£590,000] from 374 people using dating scams and were jailed last year as a result.

Image Credit: Flickr (Jordan Small)