Vancouver, BC – Every year Canadians lose millions to scammers. In some ways we are getting better at protecting ourselves and more aware of the common pitfalls…but not in one respect. Catphishing remains one of the most lucrative scam for thieves.
Catphishing is when an honest individual builds an online relationship with scammer through an Internet dating service or social media. However the ‘romantic’ relationship is not legit and the scammer is simply trying to get personal information or cold hard cash from their victim. It’s believed roughly 20% of online dating profiles are fake.
“According to numbers from the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, Catphishing eclipses everything else in terms of dollar value of reported scams across the country,” says Evan Kelly, Senior Communications Advisor for BBB serving Mainland BC. “Canadians lost over 15 million to catphishing in 2015, and that’s just what we know about. It’s likely the tip of the iceberg.”
Often these scammers will cook up a sob story once they have their hooks in you. In one instance alone in 2015 a Nanaimo woman was bilked over 125 thousand by a man she believed she was in a relationship with. He even sent her photos of him lying in a hospital bed following an alleged car crash. Police had to point out the botched Photoshop job on the pictures.
“These victims are not necessarily gullible,” adds Kelly. “They simply want to see the best in people and often these ‘relationships’ involve a good amount of time so they are very convincing. The losses are probably far greater than what is reported as many victims feel too ashamed to come forward.”
BBB offers these tips for spotting a fake profile on an online dating site:
• The troll is quick to request email and or phone number.
• The ‘relationship’ moves fast; the troll wants to earn your trust.
• They may not have viewed your profile yet still send you a message ‘gushing’ about how much they like you.
• Their photo may be generic; put their photo in a reverse image search on Google to see if it appears anywhere else.
• Look for poor grammar.
• Look for very generic interests on the troll’s profile with nothing specific cited.
• They claim to be in another country and will be heading home soon.
• They claim to be using a relative’s account so they can’t access it and need to use regular email.
• If they ask for money for an ‘emergency,’ you should walk away.
• They may make plans to meet but for some reason it always falls through.
• Never click on links they may send you.