If you’re meeting an online sweetheart for a first-time Valentine’s dinner tonight, make sure catfish isn’t on the menu.
The Better Business Bureau is offering some love advice today: beware of scammers, heartbreakers and money-takers.
With the prevalence of online dating and high-profile victims (like fooled-by-Cupid Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o), the sweetheart scam has a new name: catfishing.
Catfishing, as defined by the BBB, is when “someone creates a false identity, usually through social media sites and online dating sites, in the hopes of luring someone into a deceptive romantic relationship.” The catfish, BBB says, are looking for personal information and/or financial support.
Now, creating a tailored, online profile can be a quick and easy way into someone’s heart and their pocketbook. But the Better Business Bureau and Western Union say that there are red flags that could help you avoid being swindled.
According to the organization, characteristics of a catfisher may include:
- Someone who only communicates through email, instant message and cell phone;
- Is never able to physically meet you in person;
- Has a career or life circumstances that takes him or her overseas (i.e. military);
- Is quick to develop the relationship and talk of love;
- Has a sudden emergency, often involving the health of a child or family member;
- Has a reason he or she cannot get money and needs your help.
To avoid getting played this Valentine’s Day, the BBB offers the following tips: never wire money to an online love, use caution with those who wish to leave the dating site immediately, and take the time to research individuals.