We don’t know much about the origins of Valentine’s Day, who St. Valentine was, or even why the day became associated with romance and love. But we do know this: the period leading up to Valentine’s Day—and the day itself—is the peak season for romance scammers.
As covered by CNBC, an FBI report released last February noted that in the U.S., romance frauds account for the highest financial losses of all internet-facilitated crimes. “Losses exceeded $230 million in 2016, yet the bureau estimates that only a fraction of crimes are even reported, putting the likely actual number much higher.”
The CNBC article also noted that the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center said it received 15,000 romance scam complaints in 2016 alone, according to the most recent data―a 20 percent increase from the previous year.
In his book, “Cybercrime: The Madness Behind the Method,” Richard White, Ph.D., University of Maryland University College adjunct professor of cybersecurity and information assurance outlines the methods that sweetheart scammers use to manipulate and victimize—and in his latest UMUC Cyber Connections blog post, offers strategies you can use to minimize your risk.
For more, read “Don’t Let Romance Scams Spoil Your Valentine’s Day.”
###More About St. Valentine and the Origins of Valentine’s Day (Transposed from History.com)
The English poet Geoffrey Chaucer in the Middle Ages is thought to have been the first to link St. Valentine with romantic love. But we began celebrating the holiday itself much earlier—since the end of the 5th century when Pope Gelasius abolished the pagan festival for Lupercalia, the Roman god of agriculture, and proclaimed February 14 a feast day in honor of St. Valentine.
The day’s namesake might be any one of several Christian martyrs. One legend recounts the tale of a Roman priest named Valentinus (or Valentine) who defied Emperor Claudius II’s decree banning marriage among young men of military age because he believed single men made better soldiers. Valentine was condemned to death for continuing to marry young lovers in secret.
Or, perhaps, our modern Valentine’s Day celebrates another Valentine who was killed for attempting to help Christians escape from Roman prisons. It is said that he fell in love with a woman who visited him during his imprisonment and wrote her a letter signed "From your Valentine," and that could be why we call each other Valentines today.
Though Valentine’s Day was a popular celebration in England and France for centuries, it didn’t catch on with great force on this side of the Atlantic until the 1840s, when Esther A. Howland began selling the first mass-produced Valentine’s Day cards in America.
Today, about 145 million Valentine’s Day cards are sent each year, according to the Greeting Card Association.
To learn more about the history of Valentine’s Day, visit History.com.