You may have heard about the dreaded catfish online dating scams.
Unfortunately, catfishing on online dating sites is all too common. Scammers pretend to be handsome, wealthy, and interesting singletons (usually working in exciting fields abroad) when they reach out to vulnerable men and women on dating sites.
They woo their victims with promises of love and happiness but quickly come up with reasons why they need cash to meet up. Sometimes, they even masquerade as celebrities.
If you are worried that you may have been roped into a catfish dating site scam, you should read our tips!
What Does Catfish Mean In Dating?
Catfishing is when someone sets up a fake profile to trick people into falling in love with their created persona, usually to scam them out of money. More than $547 million was lost in 2021 due to catfish scams alone.
How Does a Catfish Online Dating Scam Work?
Catfishing online dating scams usually follow the same pattern. Singletons will come across a profile of someone looking for love. These catfish scammers will usually steal photographs of real people with poor privacy settings on social media to build a believable portfolio of photos.
They will usually have many reasons why they can’t speak in person.
They often claim to live in faraway destinations, including North Africa, India, or even in war zones where they work in lucrative fields like medicine or engineering. Many of them will create backstories to match vulnerable victims, e.g., claiming that they are single parents or widowers.
They will then “love bomb” the victim with messages of affection and compliments for several weeks before invariably running into some sort of trouble.
They may say that their company isn’t paying them and that they are stranded or that they have been involved in a severe accident and need medical attention. Because they often claim to be millionaires, victims eagerly hand over their life savings because they believe their “partner” will pay them back in full.
Some catfishing dating scams become money-laundering fronts where victims exchange currencies for the scammer and mail the money overseas, at significant personal risk.
How Can You Spot a Catfish?
The good news is that most catfish aren’t very original and follow the same modus operandi. Some of the dead giveaways of a catfish include:
- You can’t find any information about them online. Many people have an online presence (willingly or unwillingly), including social media profiles, newspaper clippings, photos they are tagged in, and more. Their photos may also not always match up to their dating profile.
- They claim to be wealthy but require money in increasingly large increments for various reasons.
- They avoid face-to-face contact, including in-person meetings or video chats (or use evasive tactics like “buffering” and blurring to disguise their appearance).
- They may claim to be from the US or UK, but their accent doesn’t match their supposed country of origin. They may also struggle to speak English or make numerous spelling and grammar mistakes.
- Their stories fail to add up or don’t make sense, e.g., claiming that a hospital is holding their passport ransom or that they aren’t allowed to leave the country until a bill is paid.
- They rapidly escalate the relationship and claim to be in love with you within a matter of days.
You can conduct a person lookup search using a professional lookup site to verify the information they’ve provided.
If you suspect that you may have fallen victim to a catfish, it’s important not to hand over any money or personal details to them.
You should also remain diligent – catfish often share information with one another, and your scammer may pop again using another identity.
If you have been a victim, don’t be ashamed. It’s more common than you think! Seek mental health as well as police assistance as you come to terms with what happened.
Catfish online dating scams are heinous crimes that cost many innocent men and women thousands of dollars every year.
Confirm the identity of the person you are chatting to online before progressing the relationship – and indeed, before you hand over the money!