'Flirt bot' delivers kick in the credit card

Lonely men looking for love around Valentine's Day are being warned of an artificially-intelligent cyber scam which seduces its victims into revealing credit card details.

The Flirt Bot was discovered by security specialists PC Tools after targeting a user on MSN's instant messaging service today.

The programme pretends to be a 21-year-old female and strikes up a risque conversation with its victim.

After discussing the colour of its "panties", it suggests the user logs onto a webcam site to chat more intimately - this linked site then asks for credit card details as a proof of age.

Similar bots - computer programmes which respond to chat commands - have been used by scammers before, but PC Tools claims the current Flirt Bot is more sophisticated than previous incarnations.

A transcript of the Flirt Bot, published by PC Tools, shows how it can deceive internet users.

For example, when it is confronted with the accusation of being a computer bot, it responds: "What's a bot?"

The user then asks what is the capital of Saudi Arabia, but the bot steers the conversation back to logging on to its webcam.

Richard Clooke at PC Tools, said: "This is the first Flirt Bot we've seen since the 'Cyberlover' in 2007. However, it seems that the intelligence behind these types of attacks has moved on significantly in this time.

"The software is now smart enough to tailor its responses to your answers and will be harder for even the more digitally active user to identify and therefore avoid."

He believes cyber scammers target their victims depending on the season. For example, at Christmas they look for online shoppers, and around Valentine's Day they seek out lonely men.

The Flirt Bot on MSN used the login ernestineholom553hotmail.com, but PC Tools said it could potentially operate on any social networking messenger service and assume different identities.

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