Love in the air, spam in the Inbox

Vietnam was the main source of love spam e-mails. — IBM

Vietnam was the main source of love spam e-mails. — IBM

With Valentine's Day tomorrow, romantic e-mails are flooding Inboxes, with over 230 million love spam messages being sent over the last couple of weeks, IBM Security finds. 

"Love is in the air this week and cybercriminals are trying to take advantage of that 'loving feeling' by sending out millions of spam e-mails," said IBM Security, revealing data that showed a massive spike in e-mail dating spam beginning in mid-January and leading up to Valentine’s Day. 

It added that a worldwide network of computers sent more than 230 million spam e-mails in just two weeks.

The majority of the e-mails were from Vietnam (32%), followed by India (23%), Iran (9%) and Mexico (8%), while six other countries accounted for 3% to 6% each, and all others totaled 1%. 

IBM Security said the messages were being sent out in excess of 30 million e-mails a day and contained short blurbs from supposed Russian women living in the United States. 

"While typical spam e-mail is notorious for bad spelling and grammar, these dating spam samples are rather well-worded," they cautioned. 

A screen-grab of one of the e-mails read: "Dear (email name), my name is Natasha and i'm from Russia. Five years ago I moved to the USA and I love it here. Came across your photos on Badoo and remembered you because you seem a type of guy I want :-) You are hot, smart and sexy :-) If you would like to know me more, this is my e-mail (spam e-mail address) write to me and I will send some of my photos. xXx, Natasha".

IBM Security offered several tips for dealing with e-mail spam, including not responding to the e-mail, marking it as spam but not unsubscribing, and keeping your operating system up to date. It added that spam operators look for unsubscribers to reply so they can verify that the address is active.

"With 99.999% certainty, researchers say any unsolicited e-mail looking for a love connection is nefarious. Don’t respond, hackers are just looking to infect you with malware or capture you in a catfishing scam... Never follow links, open attachments or follow instructions contained in these messages," they said.