Romance scams have swindled hundreds of millions of dollars out of their love-seeking victims year after year.
A word you maybe hearing a lot is Catfishing.
Catfishing is the term used when someone creates a profile using a made-up persona, fake information, and someone else’s photos. Basically, they’re lying about who they really are!
Catfishing may be used to dupe you out of your money, or they may want your personal secrets in hopes of blackmailing you later. Many times, the Catfish will claim they live or work in a foreign country or a far-away city, in hopes of limiting the possibilities of easily connecting with their romantic target. After making a quick connection, they begin their con for cash. Usually this will involve an elaborate story where the Catfish ends up needing money quickly, which may include paying for a plane ticket or travel expenses to meet their victim or paying off a medical expense they incurred. They will typically request your payment be done by wiring them money or with gift cards, as these options are difficult to trace. To many, this concept and how it is so effective seems difficult to believe. These scams work because the Catfishing scammer uses their social engineering tactics to create a personal relationship built around fake love. Once they feel they’ve developed the relationship, they strike.
We all may not be in the market for love right now, but we probably know someone in our lives that is or will be.
Here are some common red flags to be on the lookout for:
- Your connection confesses their love for you very quickly.
- They start asking for money attached to a crazy or intricate story.
- They start asking very personal questions, such as financial information.
- They avoid video chats or attempts to meet in person
If you suspect that you or a loved one are being tricked into a romance scam, stop communicating with the suspected love interest immediately. Try doing internet searches on the individual, their photos, or their job to see if their story matches up. If you or a loved one feel you’ve been a victim of a romance scam, contact your regional consumer protection agency who may be able to help resolve the issue.
There are plenty of fish in the sea but make sure you don’t hook in a catfish.