Online dating is surging during the coronavirus pandemic – and so are online romance scams, according to SocialCatfish.com, a resource that verifies online identities.
The company this week released a study using FBI data from 2019 that shows Texas ranking No. 3 among states most at risk for dating scams.
COVID-19 is only increasing that risk, especially in areas where the disease is most prominent, the company says.
During the pandemic, online dating platform Bumble reported a 21% increase, according to SocialCatfish, and percentages for the state of New York and the city of San Francisco were even higher – at 26% and 23% respectively. Tinder reported a 10-15% weekly increase.
Online daters looking for love were scammed out of $362 million in 2018, a 70% increase from the previous year, said spokesman Sebastian Cole.
SocialCatfish’s study found that 1,287 Texas residents have reported online dating scams. California reported the most with 2,206 fraud victims. Vermont reported the fewest victims of all 50 states with just 23 cases.
According to Cole, these four behaviors are warning signs to online daters that they are being scammed:
? The person wants to move fast in the relationship. The sooner they gain your trust, the faster they can ask for money. Move at a normal pace.
? They don’t want to video chat with you. If someone won’t meet, or even video chat, it is likely they are not who they say they are.
? They ask for money. If anyone courting you online asks for money – in this case perhaps related to treating COVID-19 – this is the ultimate red flag and you should cease communication.
? They have poor grammar. If they claim to be from the United States yet don’t know how to write sentences or spell words, run.
Never meet someone in person or provide any information about yourself before making sure that the online personality is who they say they are, Cole advised.
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