Online dating is now the most preferred way to meet a potential partner. A third of Australians have dipped their toes into online dating.
eHarmony, Match, RSVP, Tinder, Bumble, the list goes on. The choice of dating platform all sits within the palm of your hand. And while there are a majority of everyday people looking to find a genuine connection, there’s some with more sinister intentions. The latter fall into the category of catfishing.
eSafety Australia defines catfishing as: “when someone pretends to be someone, they’re not by using social media to create a false identity, usually to defraud or scam someone else.”
You would be surprised at how easy it is to pretend to be someone else online and convince others as well. These scammers will:
- Create fake profiles on legitimate dating websites and apps, often with stolen images.
- Try to enter into an ongoing online relationship.
- Have excuses about being overseas, in the military, or caring for a sick relative.
- They will have a sudden need for money.
- Ask for your private email or phone number.
If a match seems too good to be true, be wary, and follow these steps:
- Never give personal details or send money.
- Don’t accept friend requests or reply to messages from people you don’t know.
- Do a Google image search to see if they are who they claim to be? Sometimes they’re not very imaginative and often take the first photo they see on Google.
- Don’t share intimate pictures or videos.
- Be wary if they talk about “love” quickly.
- Think twice if they want to chat outside the dating site via email or messenger.
Let’s take a look at a real scammer and how they operate.
Sometimes they’ll reach out on Facebook and start a conversation. You might be flattered, as they’ve generally selected a handsome photo.
It will start with a random message from a stranger. He/She will ask for your location. They will want to chat outside of the platform you have met on and move to text or email. And they will bring up 'feelings' early on.
Their information appears a bit vague. They’ll have few friends on Facebook, with only photos of themselves. They could be posing as if they’re in the military to ensure they have plenty of excuses to not meet up.
Your typical online romance scam builds towards a request for money, but catfishing can just be about psychological manipulation or game-playing.
Online dating has provided an enormous opportunity for us to connect with a large array of people. Keep in the know and your online dating experience will be catfishing-free.