Don’t be caught in the “Hook Up” – Catfishing (Part 2)

Looking for love? You’re not alone. Your “perfect match” may just be a con artist who would love to target you with a romance scam.

Pre-COVID days, we saw that most couples that met online would have an expectation that they would eventually meet in real-life. However now that there are social distancing guidelines in place, meeting your newest companion could pose as a problem as catfishers could lie about their identity for months without being caught out.

How can you prevent being Catfished

Avoiding getting catfished can be very difficult, because of the sheer volume of people we interact with online each day. Therefore it can be difficult to check each identity for authenticity, however, there are tips to prevent or reduce your chances of being catfished.

ALWAYS REMEMBER: Don’t be afraid to trust your intuition. If something about your new online pal seems off, pay attention to that feeling. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Some of the ways you can prevent being catfished during Coronavirus are:

  • Can’t meet because of COVID – A tell tale sign of a catfish scammer is to come up with excuses why they cannot meet up and the pandemic gives them a built-in excuse not to meet.
  • Need money for a COVID emergency – Once they form an emotional connection with lonely victims, they ask for money saying they are sick and need help with treatment, or are low on food, water, and other supplies. Wiring money is the same as sending cash, once the money is sent it is generally lost for good.
  • The person on the other side is overly sweet and confessing love quickly – If you are stuck in your house with limited contact with your loved ones, then someone else’s sweet words can skew judgment. They count on affection and attention to thwart their victims’ judgment.
  • Moving too fast – Scammers are using the extra time at home to chat more often so they can build trust and drain your bank account faster.
  • They don’t want to video chat – The oldest excuse in the book… they cannot video chat with you because their video camera is supposedly “broken”, or they do not have the best access to Wi-Fi. The real reason they do not want to video chat with you is that they are pretending to be the person you see in the pictures and are not actually that person.

Here are some ways to avoid becoming a CatVictim:

  • Being cautious – When talking to anybody that you don’t know online, always remain slightly cautious, especially if you have only just started speaking with them or have no solid evidence that they are who they say they are. Be careful about sharing sensitive personal or financial information with someone you have not met in person. When using an online dating site, use a separate username and different email account to protect your privacy.
  • Taking your time – Try to stay on the dating site for as long as possible. Romance scammers ask their victims to use personal email or instant messaging to keep their schemes under law enforcement’s radar. Always be careful when sending images or sexually explicit messages to another person online. Once you press send, it can’t be taken back!
  • Talking to someone – If you have concerns about someone you are speaking to online, confide in someone you trust. Tell them about your concerns as they may be able to help you identify any “red flags” you may have not noticed yourself. New perspectives often bring new solutions!
  • Not being afraid to ask questions – Be wary of ‘coincidental’ similarities as well as inconsistencies in an individual’s story. As uncomfortable as it might be, don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as you need to in order to feel comfortable talking to someone. If they are a catfish, they might not be able to answer all the questions accurately and then you’ll be more likely to know that something isn’t right.
  • Adjusting your privacy settings – Catfishers will commonly look for potential victims to target, and by having your privacy settings adjusted on your social media accounts to ‘private’, you are less likely to fall victim to catfishing because nobody can see the information on your profile.

If you find yourself in a situation that seems like a catfishing scandal, make copies of all your communications ASAP. This is your proof that something fraudulent happened. People who catfish will delete the account and everything in it as soon as they think they have been caught.

Do Your Part. #BeCyberSmart.

For more information on how to keep yourself, your business and your family safe online follow Cyber Angels SA on any of our Social Media channels. For any information regarding Cyberlinx Security services, please go to our website www.cyberlinx.co.za

Written by: Robyn Bartlett