In the age of smartphones and social media, dating has made some drastic changes, steering many to easily find a hot date or, hopefully, their one true love at the click of a button. However, as easy as the dating scene can be, it’s also become an easy way for scammers to fool your heart into believing you’ve found the one!
Trolling sites for prospective victims, also known as catfishing, this scam is the act of tricking someone into an emotional/romantic relationship over a long period of time before even meeting in person, if ever. Scammers use fake photos, names, and personal information to lure their next catch. Additionally, some, though not all, will tragically break victims’ hearts after conning them out of thousands of dollars or more.
Will you marry me?
Unfortunately, for Philip Lowry, the odds were against him after he met a woman through an online dating site who lived in Ghana, reported News 4 San Antonio. They took their relationship to the next level when they took it offline and began texting and calling each other and decided to get married after several months.
After they agreed to get married, Lowry sent money for visas, passports, and clearance fees. Then, his fiancé became sick. Lowry proceeded to send more money to help pay for her medical bills.
Then, Lowry’s supposed wife-to-be stopped answering his calls. Not only had he lost thousands of dollars, but soon thereafter, he was also targeted for the “Lottery Scam”, an attempt to loot him of more money!
Unfortunately, this is an all too common pattern that scammers follow. Once they have a victim’s personal and financial information in their possession, they will feed off of their vulnerabilities, especially amongst seniors, until they’ve sucked their bank accounts dry.
You Think You Know, But You Have No Idea
Finding someone who gives you love and attention that you’ve been longing for is a great feeling. However, it’s important to realize that despite communicating online, over the phone, or through text, if you haven’t met someone in person, they should still be considered a stranger. Here are a few tips to remember while you peruse the online dating world:
- Make note of these tricks that scammers use to disguise themselves:
a) Claims to be in a glamorous profession (model, actor, musician, etc)
b) Brings money into the conversation early on
c) Claims they live, or are traveling, outside of the country
d) Wants to move your relationship off of the dating site and continue through email, calls, text messaging or some other form of unmonitored communication
- Do not give out any of your personal information, especially if you have not verified or met the individual you are communicating with.
- Dating sites recommend users communicate through their site vs. offline to best protect themselves.
- If you have been a victim of a catfishing scam, or something similar to it, report it to the FCC.