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The Dangers of Online Romance Scams

Online dating has made it easier than ever to meet new people, but it's also made it easier for scammers to take advantage of unsuspecting victims.

A romance scam, sometimes called a “catfish” scam, is when a bad actor creates a fake online profile to trick their target into sending them money or personal information by building a pseudo-romantic relationship with them.

Five red flags to look out for:

  1. You're asked for money early in the relationship - they may pressure you or ask persistently until you cave.

  2. They refuse to video chat or meet up in person.

  3. They share vague or inconsistent personal information and are unable or reluctant to answer questions directly.

  4. "I love you" comes early in the relationship and before you've met in person.

  5. Their profile or pictures are suspicious. This may mean using stock photos, celebrity photos or only posting photos that obscure their face.

A common tactic of these bad actors is to build a relationship quickly and then ask for what they want. The ask commonly stems from an invented emergency situation or emotional event that would require the victim's assistance, either financially or personally, to resolve. These scammers may ask for money, personal information, gift cards or cryptocurrency.

So how can you tell if an online dating match is a romance scammer?

  1. Use a search engine to see if their photos or story have been used elsewhere.

    1. You can reverse image search their photo using Google (here’s how).

  2. Pay attention to their grammar and spelling. Scammers often have poor language skills.

  3. Be wary if your match asks for money. Verify any story they tell you and as a rule, don't send any money or private personal info to someone you haven't met in person.

If you think you may be a victim of a romance scam, contact the dating website or app where you met the person. For additional information or romance scam support, check out the Cybercrime Support Network.

Remember, true love takes time. Don't let a scammer rush you into anything. Stay safe and happy swiping!

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