RALEIGH, N.C. (February 13, 2018) — Every day, millions of Americans log on to online dating sites, hoping to meet the love of their life. According to USA Today, one-third of all recent marriages start from an online relationship, making the idea of meeting someone online the social norm. Even with this trend, Better Business Bureau serving Eastern North Carolina (BBB) is reminding consumers to be cautious when chatting with strangers online this Valentine’s Day and throughout the year.
“While online dating can be a great way to meet new people in your area, there is also an increased danger of crossing paths with a scammer,” says Mallory Wojciechowski, President and CEO of BBB. “The internet makes it easy for scam artists to pretend to be anyone they want and to take advantage of people who are honestly looking for a deeper connection or love.”
Last year, 142 romance scams were reported to BBB Scam Tracker nationwide. A majority of reports dealt with internet catfishing. Catfishing is when someone creates an online profile using the identity of another person, typically for fraudulent or deceptive purposes. The goal of a catfish is to gain your trust, in hopes of you sending them money. Anyone can be a victim of a catfishing scam. Awareness and education are the best lines of defense against fraud. Consumers can protect themselves by applying common sense and not allowing their emotions to cloud their judgement.
How to spot a catfish:
Too hot to be true. Scammers offer up nice-looking photos and tales of financial success. If they seem “too perfect,” your alarm bells should ring.
In a hurry to get off the site. Catfishers will quickly try to get you to communicate through email, social media direct messages or over the phone.
Moving fast. A catfisher will begin speaking of a future together and tell you they love you. They often tell you this early on and say they’ve never felt this way before.
Talk about trust. Catfishers will start manipulating you with talk about trust and how important it is. This will often be a first step to asking you for money.
Don’t want to meet. Be wary of someone who always has an excuse to postpone meeting in-person because they say they are traveling or live overseas, or are in the military.
Suspect grammar issues. If the person you are communicating with claims to be from your hometown, but has poor spelling or grammar, uses overly flowery language, or uses phrases that don’t make sense, that’s a red flag.
Hard luck stories. Before moving on to asking you for money, the scammer may hint at financial troubles, such as the heat being cut off, a car being stolen, or a sick relative.They may also share a sad story from their past (death of parents or spouse, etc.).
About BBB serving Eastern North Carolina
Better Business Bureau serving Eastern North Carolina is a 501(c)(6) not-for-profit corporation serving 33 counties in eastern North Carolina. The organization is funded primarily by BBB Accredited Business fees from over 3,700 local businesses and professional firms. BBB promotes integrity, consumer confidence and business ethics through business self-regulation in the local marketplace. Services provided by BBB include reports on companies and charitable organizations, general monitoring of advertising in the marketplace, consumer/business education programs and dispute resolution services. All services are provided at no cost to the public, with the occasional exception of mediation and arbitration. Visit bbb.org.
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Category: Press Release