The dating scene has transformed a lot in the past years. People mostly meet physically but this is all gradually changing with the rise of online dating. Many people are now meeting online and although this has somewhat simplified dating, it has opened doors for a whole new wave of romantic scams. Behind the mask of false online identities, scammers have taken advantage of online dating to lure people into romantic relationships for their own selfish motives. This is termed as catfishing — a peculiar new scam where an internet predator creates a fake identity on a social networking platform, usually targeting a specific victim for abuse or fraud. Stella Atuhairwe, a social media enthusiast, says people who look for love online need to be alert because not everyone on these platforms has good intentions.
Catfishing is a deceptive activity where a person creates a sockpuppet presence or fake identity on a social networking service , usually targeting a specific victim for abuse or fraud. Catfishing is often employed for romance scams on dating websites. The practice may be used for financial gain, to compromise a victim in some way, or simply as forms of trolling or wish fulfillment.
Millions of people turn to online dating apps or social networking sites to meet someone. But instead of finding romance, many find a scammer trying to trick them.
Do you have questions about your vision health? A Pew Research Center study revealed that nearly 60 percent of U. But seeking romantic bliss online can have a major downside: Cyberspace is full of scammers eager to take advantage of lonely hearts. The con works something like this: You post a dating profile and up pops a promising match — good-looking, smart, funny and personable.
This potential mate claims to live in another part of the country or to be abroad for business or a military deployment. But he or she seems smitten and eager to get to know you better, and suggests you move your relationship to a private channel like email or a chat app. Over weeks or months you feel yourself growing closer. You make plans to meet in person, but for your new love something always comes up.
Then you get an urgent request. He or she will promise to pay it back, but that will never happen. Phony suitors also seek out targets on social media, and they are increasingly active. The Federal Trade Commission FTC received more than 25, reports about romance scams in , a nearly threefold increase since
Tell-tale signs your online date may be an online fraud
An internet search for Mike Sency’s name immediately yields hundreds of accounts spread across social media and dating websites. Many of the profiles contain small differences, such as the photos used, the spelling of his name, even various details about his hobbies and interests. But they all share one common trait: They’re fake. Sency is used to it.
There are so many dating apps. We are sharing on more platforms.” Social media platforms don’t have much incentive to address fake profiles.
Romance fraud happens when someone believes they have met their perfect match through an online dating site or app, but the other person is in fact a scammer using a fake profile to build the relationship. They slowly gain your trust with a view to eventually asking you for money or obtaining enough personal details to steal your identity.
It plays on the need we all have for love and companionship and many people fall victim every year. If the scammer is successful in persuading you to lend or give them money, they will usually come back with more and more reasons for needing more. People who have fallen victim to romance scams tend to report the same pattern. If someone you know is using online dating or friendship sites and reports any of these signs, it may indicate they are being scammed….
You just have to be aware that scammers do exist, and follow some simple rules to protect yourself online:. Revealing your full name, date of birth and home address could lead to your identity being stolen.
How to spot and avoid online dating scams
Millions of people turn to online dating apps or social networking sites to meet someone. But instead of finding romance, many find a scammer trying to trick them into sending money. Read about the stories romance scammers make up and learn the 1 tip for avoiding a romance scam. People reported losing more money to romance scams in the past two years than to any other fraud reported to the FTC. Romance scammers create fake profiles on dating sites and apps, or contact their targets through popular social media sites like Instagram, Facebook, or Google Hangouts.
The scammers strike up a relationship with their targets to build their trust, sometimes talking or chatting several times a day.
With the advent of the internet age, and rapidly changing personal technology like smartphones and tablets, the way we connect and communicate has changed drastically, and Online Dating Scams are on the rise. Our social media and internet dating habits have brought with them both new possibilities and increased dangers. Social networks like Facebook and dating applications like Tinder, Grinder etc, are regularly used by unscrupulous catfish looking for victims of Online Dating Scams or even just by lonely people who deceive others in order to gain some extra attention.
Social networks and dating sites are preferred by catfish as these are places where people are at their most vulnerable — searching for love, or feeling they are amongst friends, sharing personal stories and details. Lyonswood Investigations has 34 years of gathering evidence regarding the identity of persons. Traditionally, con men would meet victims face to face but these days it typically happens online so the perpetrators have access to many more victims.
Our computer forensic resources and personal record databases often enable us to show whether the person you are dealing with online actually exists. In the past, we have investigated many catfishing and Online Dating scams. One, in particular, involved a man who not only had around four parallel relationships but had also defrauded each victim partner of tens of thousands of dollars for alleged business ventures, none of which existed.
Kentuckians at risk for online dating scams during pandemic, study finds
Scammers take advantage of people looking for romantic partners, often via dating websites, apps or social media by pretending to be prospective companions. They play on emotional triggers to get you to provide money, gifts or personal details. How this scam works Warning signs Protect yourself Have you been scammed? More information. Dating and romance scams often take place through online dating websites, but scammers may also use social media or email to make contact.
A photo of Alec Couros. For more than a decade, Alec Couros has been the unwitting face of online dating scams. (Supplied: Alec Couros).
Kentucky residents are the No. One thing is clear, romance and catfishing scams are bound to go up even higher in , especially in places where the coronavirus is more prominent. Social Catfish is an online dating investigation service. Some of the highlights were:. They want to move fast in the relationship. The sooner they gain your trust, the faster they can ask for money. Move at a normal pace. They ask for money. If anyone courting you online asks for money — in this case perhaps related to treating COVID — this is the ultimate red flag and you should cease communication.
They have poor grammar.
How to spot a catfish
A failed relationship could give you a broken heart, but it shouldn’t leave you out of pocket. Scammers are drawn to dating sites because they know that the people on there are looking to make a personal connection, and they can use this to their advantage. The catfishing from the original documentary started on Facebook , but you can also be catfished on dating apps like Tinder, in chatrooms or even through fake video chats on Skype.
Online communication channels allow scammers to operate anonymously from anywhere in the world. Source: Targeting scams: Report of the ACCC on scams.
The need to give and receive love is unfortunately an extremely easy human weakness to exploit. The FTC received reports of 21, romance scams in , up from 8, in According to the FTC, these scammers typically ask for money to be wired to them, or transferred via gift card. Last May, the agency responded to frequent Freedom of Information Acts requests on the topic by releasing thousands of consumer complaints pertaining to Match.
These complaints were both about catfishing and allegedly deceptive business practices carried out by the sites themselves e. The dating advice in the report is equally grim.
Scammers & Catfish
So which states have the biggest problems with catfishing—and which have the least? We looked at FBI and Census data to determine your likelihood of being scammed in romance. Catfishing usually refers to online romance scams where someone uses a fake online profile to attract victims. Still, it can also come in the form of family, friends, or business relationships. The non-western states with the highest rates of catfishing are New Hampshire, Minnesota, Florida, and Maryland.
Year of the Catfish: 27% of Dating Site Users Scammed either been asked for money or have given money to someone that they met online.
Earlier this year, 10 people located around the United States were arrested and charged in an organized money laundering scheme as they were attempting to wash the cash that they illegally obtained. What was strange about the scheme is how the money was obtained in the first place. It wasn’t through the trading or trafficking of illegal goods or drugs, but rather cash that was sent by unsuspecting women who thought they were building relationships with the scammers. This type of thing happens more often than you might think.
These types of schemes are known as romance scams, and while there is no shortage of scams online, few are more devastating. That makes it all the more painful when the rug is pulled out from under them and the scammers make off with their income or savings. Many of these schemes to swindle vulnerable people looking for love originate in Nigeria, where there is a bustling underground economy of scammers who set up profiles on online dating sites and sweet talk unsuspecting victims out of their savings.
Social Catfish , an online dating investigation service, shared an actual playbook provided by a member of a Nigerian dating scam ring and provided insight into how these scammers operate and what to watch out for. According to Social Catfish marketing manager Johnny Santiago explained that most romance scams originate on dating states like Match.
Romance scams have originated on other popular apps with communication tools like Words With Friends, for example. They rarely stay on these platforms for long, though. Santiago said, “These scammers then try to get their victims off dating and social media sites to messaging apps like WhatsApp or Google Hangouts, so their accounts won’t get deleted.
The scammers almost always claim that their aim is to find love and to build a connection, sometimes telling their victims that finding one another was “destiny.