Holiday Season Catfishing: How to Spot an Online Dating Scam

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If you’re looking for love this holiday season, be careful that you don’t fall for an online dating scam.
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Disclaimer: The below is solely intended for informational purposes and in no way constitutes legal advice or specific recommendations.

What is it about the holidays that seem to ignite the spark for uncoupled people? Some say the combination of cold weather and the holidays creates a need for cuddles, also known as “cuffing season.” With all the single ladies and men jumping online to find a date for the festive season, it also brings out the scammers, or catfishers.

Whether you’re hopping onto Match.com, Zoosk, or other online dating app, you’re likely to see a fresh crop of daters joining the scene, especially right after the first of the year. Catfishers know this, too. In fact, catfishers, or people who pose as someone else looking for love, have managed to scam nearly $1 billion out of those longing for love since 2015 in the United States and Canada. The catfish scam is only getting worse, and you’re likely to encounter one regardless of which dating site you use.

A catfisher often uses the tactic of finding love as a means to source their next funds. Typically, a catfisher will target more than one person to make it a bigger payday for themselves. That very scenario recently happened to multiple women in the Midwest. A man claiming to live in Dubai managed to dupe one woman out of $1,000, and took another woman for $30,000.

Although many catfishers have an end goal of pilfering your bank account, not all of them are interested in money. In fact, catfishers may have a variety of different motives for tricking someone into believing that they or another is who they claim to be. Many of those who steal images of others online to create a false persona are lonely and looking for love, even if only short-term love. They may also be trying to catch a partner cheating, seek revenge if they’ve been hurt by an ex, or even just stave off boredom.

Is My Online Date Catfishing Me?

Regardless of what reason a person may have for their catfishing scheme, there are some telltale signs that you’re dealing with a scammer. If the person you’re just getting to know seems as though they’re too good to be true, they might be a catfisher. For example, their interests may be exactly the same as yours. Plus, they might not want to meet in person, which is understandable with online dating, but if they put you off too often, that could be a red flag.

If a person you’ve just met is claiming they love you, it’s a good idea to be wary. And if their stories seem a bit too manufactured, then trust your instinct. The “trust, but verify” method is probably the best here, especially if someone asks you for money.

It’s easy to fall in love quickly with all the twinkling lights, eggnog, and mistletoe around this time of year. However, you might be opening yourself up to heartache and identity theft. To make sure you aren’t falling for a scam, run a public records search on your potential date. At the very least, you can try and learn if the person is who they claim to be and put some of your concerns at ease.

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