Finding a soulmate is already pretty tough, but here's another reason to keep your guard up.
Facebook FB is launching a dating application later this year, and users are already perceiving a rise in "catfishers" -- crooks pretending to be lovelorn in an attempt to pull off a romance scam.
Michelle Amburgey, a year-old who runs a holistic healing business, said she received six sketchy Facebook "friend requests" over just one recent weekend. Amburgey said she has always perceived Facebook scams dating suspected catfishing attempts on the social media network, but never with this kind of volumn.
Other users say much the same, and experts maintain that's not surprising.
It seems to a fair bet that those same criminals will see a new Facebook dating service as a huge opportunity," said Danny Boice, president of Trustify, a private investigation firm. Amburgey said she wasn't about to take "Facebook scams dating" bait just to confirm that the odd "friend" requests were, indeed, from con artists, but all the warning signs were there. Each had some reason to be out of the country, and thus unable to meet in person. None of them had Facebook scams dating personal information on their profiles.
It was just creepy. Unfortunately, even in the best circumstances, online dating is beset with fraud -- both innocuous and criminal.
Some 54 percent of online daters think someone they've been corresponding with has misrepresented themselves in some way, said Aaron Smith, associate director at the Pew Research Center.
That can be as simple as lying about your age or looks, or attempting to pretend that you're single when you're actually married. However, the most common online dating scam involves catfishers who are looking to con victims out of Facebook scams dating. More than 85 percent of these scams started on or involved Facebook, Boice said. Boice believes that scammers target Facebook because of the site's con-friendly demographics and the vast number of potential victims.
A whopping 83 percent of adult women use the site as do 75 percent of adult men, according to SproutSocial. And unlike many other social media sites that mainly appeal to millennials, Facebook's audience skews mature -- an important factor for con artists looking for lonely people with money. And victims are twice as likely to be women as men.
If you strike up a relationship with someone who approached you on Facebook, take a few minutes to do a Google image search. Call up Google images and then drag and drop the photo into the search bar. If the name that comes up in that search is not that of your suitor -- or if it's a photo that comes up multiple times and is associated with many names, be warned. You're Facebook scams dating likely dealing with a scammer, who has purloined attractive photographs and is using them to create a fake online identity.
Con artists are "Facebook scams dating" reluctant to talk on the phone, through Facetime or meet in person. Of course, the reason for that is obvious. If the athletic Midwestern hunk you think you're corresponding with is actually a skinny Nigerian telemarketer with a heavy accent, even talking on the is likely to raise alarms.
Meeting for coffee or video-chatting would certainly ruin the scam. Of course a good crook will find many plausible reasons to hinder or delay that personal contact. He or she might claim to be having phone problems, be in a place with a poor cell reception or deployed in the military overseas, where the time difference could make in-person chats impractical.
But do you believe the excuses to be true? They could be for a while, but be wary. If you've been chatting with someone for many weeks or months, and you still haven't seen the person's face in anything but a picture, Facebook scams dating it a warning. Time is the enemy of a crook.
Whereas Facebook scams dating might email or text message with a potential beau a few times a week, a con artist is likely to contact you multiple times a day and fall head over heels in love with you within weeks.
Crooks specifically target people who they think might be lonely and then gain the victim's trust by being exceptionally good listeners and emotionally supportive. Unfortunately, that's just part of the con -- and they're good at it, said Boice.
One in five victims, who were suspicious enough to hire Trustify to check out an online love interest end up rejecting the investigator's findings, Boice said. Romance scammers increasingly ask victims to share compromising photos, said Boice. They may even start the process by sharing one -- or many -- with you. However, if you share a real photo, the scammer is likely to use it later to blackmail you.
The final step -- or many steps, depending on the victim's gullibility -- is a monetary appeal. If you send the money, the scammer Facebook scams dating disappear.
Eventually, victims wise up and stop sending cash. But many Facebook scams dating thousands of dollars before they end it. At the point when neither emotional or photographic blackmail is enough to get you to send more cash, your crook is likely to move on, leaving you poorer but wiser.
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