According to the Times internet scammers are targeting women in their 50s and 60s, often retired and living alone, who say that the email and phone wooing forms a bond that may not be physical but that is intense and enveloping. Between July 1 and Dec. 31, 2014, nearly 6,000 people registered complaints of such confidence fraud with losses of $82.3 million, according to the federal Internet Crime Complaint Center. Older people are ideal targets because they often have accumulated savings over a lifetime, own their homes and are susceptible to being deceived by someone intent on fraud. The digital version of the romance con is now sufficiently widespread that AARP's Fraud Watch Network has urged online dating sites to institute more safeguards to protect against such fraud. The AARP network recommends that dating site members use Google's "search by image" to see if the suitor's picture appears on other sites with different names. If an email from "a potential suitor seems suspicious, cut and paste it into Google and see if the words pop up on any romance scam sites," the network advised. The website romancescams.org lists red flags to look for to identify such predators, who urgently appeal to victims for money to cover financial setbacks like unexpected fines, money lost to robbery or unpaid wages. Most victims say they are embarrassed to admit what happened, and they fear that revealing it will bring derision from their family and friends, who will question their judgment and even their ability to handle their own financial affairs."It makes me sound so stupid, but he would be calling me in the evening and at night. It felt so real. We had plans to go to the Bahamas and to Bermuda together," says Louise Brown. "When I found out it was a scam, I felt so betrayed. I kept it secret from my family for two years, but it's an awful thing to carry around. But later I sent him a message and said I forgave him."
It seems each agency has to be hit by a cyberattack, causing it to go into panic-mode independently, before learning to properly safeguard its systems. Officials say far too much money is wasted on figuring out who and what to blame, rather than on ameliorating the problem. "At the Internal Revenue Service, auditors identified 69 vulnerabilities in the agency's networks last year, but when officials there told Government Accountability Office auditors this year that they had fixed 24 of those problems, investigators found only 14 had been resolved."
Even more alarming for liars is the incorporation of lie detector technology into the facial recognition technology. Researchers claim video-analysis software can analyze eye movement successfully to identify whether or not a subject is fibbing 82.5 percent of the time. The new technology heightens surveillance capabilities—from monitoring actions to assessing emotions—in ways that make an individual ever more vulnerable to government authorities, marketers, employers, and to any and every person with whom we interact. "We must understand that—at the individual level and with regard to interpersonal relations—too much truth and transparency can be harmful," says Norberto Andrade. "The permanent confrontation with a verifiable truth will turn us into overly cautious, calculating, and suspicious people."
Cathy Gellis at Popehat refers to the situation surrounding Charles Carreon, the man who antagonized The Oatmeal (Matthew Inman's webcomic) and issued legal threats to those who called him out. "In that case the critic had selected a domain incorporating Carreon's name in order to best get his point about Carreon's thuggery across, which the First Amendment and federal trademark law allowed him to do. ... Unfortunately, the registrar immediately caved to Carreon's pressure and disclosed the critic's identifying information, thereby eviscerating the privacy protection the critic expected to have, and depended on, for his commentary."