Dating sites are being targeted by scam artists. With many new free dating sites, scam artists have found a great resource of possibly desperate people they can take advantage of.
Catfishing Relationship Scam
Catfishing is when you lure someone into a relationship using a fake online personality. Sock puppeting is a similar term.
How Catfishing Works
The scam starts when you are contacted on a dating site, but it could also be via social media, email or a telephone call.
The person will then try gain your confidence using a fake persona, or perhaps by taking a real person and trying to pass themselves off as that other person who sounds trust worthy.
If the person is from a non western country, they may try to pass themselves off as a westerner who is travelling.
The idea is to create a strong bond with you using loving words, or even gifts. Perhaps making commitments, but often backing out or cancelling if it involves meeting in person.
Catfishing Hook Set
Once you have let your guard down and they feel you are able to be manipulated, they will start asking for money, banking details, presents etc. They might try tug at your heartstrings with a story about a family problem, or personal tragedy.
Also be wary of people asking you to buy items or forward them to others and potentially be an in-between on money transfers... that may later be cancelled for example. Leaving you short of your money.
Why is it called Catfishing
The term originates from a 2010 documentary named "Catfish" about a man finding out the online relationship he had developed was not real.
International Crime Networks
Some of these scammers may be involved in a criminal network that may stretch across many countries. Be particularly careful of being lured overseas as this may put you in a dangerous situation.
African / Nigerian Scam
One common scam is involving african countries that claim to have money they are willing to share with you if only you help them get the said money out of the country. Getting this money out of the country involves you sending them money. If you send them any money, they will then come up with another reason why you need to send them more money.
Unfortunately some people are falling for this and being taken for an expensive and far from fun ride.
Remember, as in all forms of life, be sensible and treat others motives with suspicion... particularly on the internet. Daters, please be aware of these dating scams and be careful out there.
What to do After Being Scammed?
Please report any scams to government agencies that may be interested.
Talk to any platforms you were scammed on and provide the details about the account used so they can try stop the scam happening to others.
Notify any of your banking providers as soon as possible.
It is easy to get caught by professional scammers, so don't be too hard on yourself. Take it as a lesson and move on. It is important to be diligent, but don't become defensive to the point you block everything out of your life and hold out some hope for the good in others :).