Just in time for Valentine’s Day! “Looking for love in all the wrong places?”
Many have turned to online dating and social media throughout the last couple of years. New apps have been developed, and some social media platforms have even created ways to find your better half online. Unfortunately, these platforms have not only made it easier than ever to meet new people and find dates but have also made it easier to be scammed as well. Con artists create compelling backstories and full-fledged identities, then trick you into falling for someone who doesn’t exist. This form of deception is known as “catfishing”. Better Business Bureau (BBB) has witnessed a growth in romance scams in recent years. With Valentine’s Day around the corner BBB encourages those looking for love to be wary of fraudsters. Don’t let your quest for love blind you to the realities of romance scams.
How the scam works:
Most romance scams start with fake profiles on online dating sites created by stealing photos and text from real accounts or elsewhere. Scammers often claim to be in the military or working overseas to explain why they can’t meet you in person. Over a short period of time, the scammer builds a fake relationship with you, exchanging photos and romantic messages, even talking on the phone or through a webcam.
Just when the relationship seems to be getting serious, your new sweetheart has a health issue or family emergency or wants to plan a visit. No matter the story, the request is the same: they need money. But after you send money, there’s another request, and then another. Or the scammer stops communicating altogether.
Tips to spot this scam:
- Too hot to be true.Scammers offer up good-looking photos and tales of financial success.
- In a hurry to get off the site.Catfishers will try very quickly to get you to move to communicate through email, messenger, or phone.
- Moving fast.A catfisher will begin speaking of a future together and tell you they love you quickly. They often say they’ve never felt this way before.
- Talk about trust.Catfishers will start manipulating you with talk about trust and its importance. This will often be the first step to asking you for money.
- Don’t want to meet.Be wary of someone who always has an excuse to postpone a meeting because they say they are traveling or live overseas or are in the military.
- Suspect language.If the person you are communicating with claims to be from your hometown but has poor spelling or grammar, uses overly flowery language or uses phrases that don’t make sense, that’s a red flag.
- Hard luck stories. Before moving on to asking you for money, the scammer may hint at financial troubles like heat being cut off or a stolen car, or a sick relative, or they may share a sad story from their past (death of parents or spouse, etc.).
Protect yourself from this scam:
- Never send money or personal information that can be used for identity theft to someone you’ve never met in person.
- Ask specific questions about details given in a profile.
- Do your research. Many scammers steal photos from the web to use in their profiles. You can do a reverse image lookup using a website like comor images.google.com to see if the photos on a profile are stolen from somewhere else.
To report a scam, go to BBB Scam Tracker.
Check out our romance scam resource page at BBB.org/romance.
ABOUT BBB: The Better Business Bureau has empowered people to find businesses, brands, and charities they can trust for over 110 years. In 2022, people turned to BBB more than 250 million times for BBB Business Profiles on more than 5.3 million businesses and Charity Reports on about 12,000 charities, all available for free at BBB.org. The International Association of Better Business Bureaus is the umbrella organization for the local, independent BBBs in the United States, Canada, and Mexico.
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