That World Wide Web is a confusing and often-times dangerous place, but the Government of Canada is offering a few tips on how to avoid being swindled out of your hard-earned cash.
Getting catfished is a serious possibility for those who turn to social media or dating sites to find that special someone, and can end up in worse than just humiliation and disappointment.
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No, we’re not just talking about some guy on Tinder saying that they’re totally 6 feet tall when really they’re 5’10” at most, or a girl who may have done her makeup somewhat differently than in her pictures. We’re talking about people who fabricate completely different identities online in order to take advantage of others.
According to a release from the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, romance scams (ie, getting catfished) can lead to theft, extortion, or even the victim being tricked into committing fraud on the perpetrator’s behalf.
Not all #catfish live underwater. The ones that live on land do the luring. Find out more about romance scams here: https://t.co/PLJLPin6fM #catphish #CatfishDay #NationalCatfishDay pic.twitter.com/5gmy7SsiHa
— RCMP Alberta (@RCMPAlberta) June 25, 2018
The centre has offered a few tips and tricks for recognizing romance scams for what they are, including this gem: “Be suspicious when someone you haven’t met in person professes their love to you. Ask yourself – would someone I’ve never met really declare their love after only a few emails?”
The Anti-Fraud Centre asks that anyone who has sent money or shared financial information with someone who was catfishing them to report the crime by filing a report to 1-888-495-8501, or online at their website.
Here are the rest of the tips from the centre on how to avoid, stop, or identify romance scams:
- Be wary when someone you meet on social media wants to quickly move to a private mode of communication (email, text).
- If trying to set up an in-person meeting, be suspicious if they always have an excuse not to meet.
- If you do actually set up a meeting – tell family and friends when and where you’re going and meet in a local, public place.
- Do not share personal (birthdate, address) or financial information with anyone you’ve only just met online or in person.
- Never send intimate photos or video of yourself. The scammer may try to use these to blackmail you into sending money.
- Be cautious when conversing with an individual that claims to live close to you but is working overseas.
- Never under any circumstance send money for any reason. The scammer will make it seem like an emergency, they may even express distress or anger to make you feel guilty but DO NOT send money.
- Should you be asked to accept money (e-transfer, cheque) or goods (usually electronics) for you to transfer/send elsewhere, do not accept to do so. This is usually a form of money laundering which is a criminal offence.
- If you suspect a loved one may be a victim of a romance scam – based on any above points – explain the concerns and risks to them and help them get out of the situation.
- Do an image search of the admirer to see if their photo has been taken from a stock photo site or someone else’s online profile.
- Look for inconsistencies in their online profile vs. what they tell you.
- Watch for poorly written, vague messages, sometimes even addressing you by the wrong name – often scammers are working several victims at once.
- If you have transferred money, stop the transaction if possible.
- If you did send money or share financial information, report it to the financial institution used e.g. your bank, Western Union, MoneyGram.
- Gather all information pertaining to the situation, including the scammer’s profile name, how you made contact, social media screenshots, emails, etc. and contact your local police.
- File a report with the CAFC toll-free at 1-888-495-8501 or online www.antifraudcentre.ca.
- Notify the dating website or social media site where you met the scammer. Scammers usually have more than one account. Be proactive, tell family, friends, cco-workersand neighbours about your experience to warn them about romance scams.