It is almost too hard to believe that scammers would use someone’s charity or heart against them, but that’s exactly what happens in Romance Scams, which cost Canadians $17 million last year.
Although Online dating is becoming more and more popular, it also makes people more vulnerable. Online dating is big business to scammers, and unsuspecting Canadians gave away their hearts and their money to these not-so-feline catphishers. A catphisher has nothing to do with cats or fishing, it is actually when someone fabricates an identity and tricks someone via electronic communication to enter into a phony emotional or romantic relationship for financial gain. Usually the catphisher creates a phony social media profile to appear like a real person to establish the relationship with the victim.
The point of the ‘relationship’ is usually to defraud the victim out of money. They often will be unable to speak on the phone, or video chat, because ‘they can’t figure it out’ or ‘it’s not compatible with their browser’. Eventually, as the relationship carries on, the catphisher begins to ask for funds, because of a crisis of some kind. Strangely, the catphisher’s profile image is one of an attractive man or woman (which is never actually of themselves). Usually the photos are stolen from someone else on the internet, and to keep the illusion up, the catphisher won’t want to allow you to actually see their real faces. To maintain the air of legitimacy, the scammer will finally agree to meet you in person, and the plans will run smoothly, until the last minute, when they must cancel the plans due to a crisis.
The key to protecting yourself is to never wire money to someone that you’ve never met. That goes for Romance Scams or anyone else for that matter. If the person is out of the country, and can never meet in person, realistically, you should just walk away. Don’t send money to people you haven’t met and, although online love is always a possibility, guard your heart as well as your wallet.
Like many other scams, if it’s too good to be true, it probably is.