Online dating has opened up a sea of possibilities for people looking for love. But there is a twisted scam that could leave you heartbroken and just plain broke. “Catfish”, or online dating scammers, create false personas on social media and dating sites to take advantage of people.
According to the FBI’s website, romance scams conned victims nationwide out of more than $200 million in 2015. In Texas, victims reported losing more than $250,000 to the Better Business Bureau Scam Tracker last year. Most of the scam reports claim that they were contacted though a dating website or through social media. After a few weeks of months of back and forth messaging, they were prompted to wire over money to help with a sudden emergency.
Miguel Segura, with the Better Business Bureau, says there are some red flags people can look out for:
• Pressure to leave the dating site: The scammer immediately suggests moving the conversation to text message or your personal email.
• Claims of citizenship: They claim to be from the United States, but are actually located in an overseas call center, deployed or on assignment elsewhere.
• Change of plans: They plan on visiting, but unexpectedly are prevented by a traumatic event or a business deal gone sour. Some may also say they’re out of the country for business or military service.I
Segura says if you are looking for love online you should never wire money, avoid putting too much personal information on your profile and make sure you take time to research individuals.