WICHITA FALLS, Texas (TNN) - Statistics from Wallet Hub show that Valentine’s Day is the second-priciest holiday on the calendar for consumers in the U.S., with the average person spending about $196.
Online dating advancements have made it easier to meet new people and find dates. Unfortunately, it has made scammers’ work much simpler, as well. These con-artists create very compelling backstories and full-fledged identities, then try to trick you into falling for a person who doesn’t even exist. This is known as “catfishing.”
Many online dating scams begin with stolen photos gathered to create a believable profile. Scammers often claim to be in the military or working overseas to explain why they can’t meet in person. Over a short period of time, the scammer builds, what feels like a very real, fake relationship with you, sending romantic messages and exchanging photos, even talking on the phone or, for a more advanced scammer, through a webcam.
Just when the relationship seems to be getting more serious, the scammer will suddenly have an emergency, or wants to plan a time, very soon, to see you. No matter the story, they all request the same thing: money. However, after you send them money, there’s another emergency requiring quick cash, then another and another. Or after a few requests fulfilled, the scammer stops communicating with you altogether.
“While some consumers have found happiness using a dating service, others have been disappointed in the quality of matches or the number of suitable people they were able to meet using the service,” said Monica Horton, with the BBB of North Central Texas, “Meeting people online may sound easy and safe, but consumers need to keep their guard up to avoid being swindled, hurt or worse.”
Below are some signs to keep in mind when dating online.
- Too good to be true: Scammers offer up unbelievably good photos and tales of financial success. If they seem “too perfect,” your alarm bells should ring.
- In a hurry to get off the site: Catfishers will try very quickly to get you to move to communicating through email or phone.
- Moving fast: A catfisher will talk of a future together and tell you they love you very quickly.
- Talk about trust: Catfishers will start trying to manipulate you with talk about trust and how important it is. This will often be a first step to asking you for money.
- Don’t want to meet: Be wary of a person who always has an excuse to postpone an in-person meeting because they say they are traveling, live overseas or are in the military.
- Suspect language: If the person you are communicating with claims to be from your home town but has poor spelling and grammar, uses overly a lot of flourished language, or uses phrases that don’t make sense, that’s a red flag.
The scammers are so sneaky and quick, often the victim has no idea they’ve been taken advantage of, that is until their bank accounts are empty and their heart is broken.