Oakland, CA — Feb. 14, 2013 — Valentine’s Day is a day for romance, but Better Business Bureau warns that it can also be an opportune time for scammers to take advantage of those looking for love online.
There has been a lot of talk recently about fake online profiles in light of Notre Dame football star, Manti Te’o, falling victim to a fake profile hoax. While the story is new, the scam is not.
A sweetheart scam, also more recently referred to as “catfishing,” is when someone creates a false identity, usually through social media sites and online dating sites, in the hopes of luring someone into a deceptive romantic relationship.
“Catfish” are looking for personal information and/or financial support. They put a lot of time and effort into building a fake persona and relationship with their victim(s). They’ve even been known to pose as members of the military to tug on heart strings just a little tighter.
Red flags of a catfish scam include a person who:
- Only communicates through email, instant message and cell phone.
- Is never able to physically meet you in person.
- Has a career or life circumstances that takes him or her overseas (i.e. military).
- Is quick to develop the relationship and talk of love.
- Has a sudden emergency, often involving the health of a child or family member.
- Has a reason he or she cannot get money and needs your help.
For those looking to start their search for love, BBB offers the following tips:
- Never wire money. It is difficult to get money back from someone who may be misrepresenting themselves once it has been sent through a wire service.
- Use caution with those who wish to leave the dating site immediately. Many times scammers will attempt to lure you off the dating site to continue communication using personal email accounts.
- Take the time to research individuals. If any red flags are raised in your communication with someone, search his or her name through search engines and on social media sites. Copy and paste portions of your emails into search engines to see if they have been associated with scams.
About The BBB
The BBB is an unbiased nonprofit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Businesses that earn BBB Accreditation contractually agree and adhere to the organization’s high standards of ethical business behavior. The BBB provides objective advice, free BBB Reliability ReportsTM on businesses and BBB Wise Giving ReportsTM on charities, and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. To further promote trust, your BBB also offers dispute resolution services for consumers and businesses. The first BBB was founded in 1912. Today, 114 BBBs serve communities across the U.S. and Canada. Please visit www.goldengate.bbb.org for more information.