Catfishing is a deceptive technique where a scammer creates a fictional identity on a social networking service to target their victims.
In a new twist to online frauds, scammers are investing weeks, months, and even years to build trust and bilk millions from people. But Cyber-Forensics.net says this is nothing but part of a new type of romance scam.
Like romance scams, where tricksters directly ask for bank details from their love interests, the Catfish scam is the tactic where cyber thugs create fake scenarios, false identities, spend hours talking, and gain the trust of potential targets. The scammers then pretend to have been in an accident, caught up in a bad situation, and ask for financial help.
A chief analyst working at Cyber-Forensics.net, a cyber forensics service dedicated to helping online scam victims, reveals, “catfish scammers go to extreme measures such as create a community of fake friends to sound legitimate, and come up with elaborative stories to ask their victims to send large sums of money without even meeting them.”
Now organizations like the Federal Trade Commission, FBI, Interpol, Cyber-Forensics.net are issuing alerts to warn people of the drastic spikes in the number of this online scam. Officials are bringing the heartfelt stories of catfish scam victims to the forefront and warning people before they lose any money.
Yvonne Costales believed she finally found the man of her dreams when she met Robert online. “I fell in love with his picture. It is so silly, like falling in love with a poster of a rockstar”.
The scammer’s profile looked good, and he even posted photos of him attending a charity event meant for breast cancer patients. But whenever Costales “planned to meet, he canceled”-she recalled. Her final red flag was when Robert explained he had been in an accident and needed to exchange money.
Fortunately, Yvonne Costales listened to her gut and questioned if this online courtship was real? She quickly verified the number using an online tool which led her to a man living in San Francisco who was already married to another man.
Account recovery specialist Peter Thompson says, “with no verification requirements to create online profiles; fraudsters go unchecked sometimes. This has led to a massive uptick in catfish scams in the past 18 months.”
In another statement, the Federal Trade Commission spokesperson said, "In 2021, $147 million were lost to romance scams. And in the past five years, the figure accumulated to $1.3 billion." The fastest-growing segment to fall victim to these scams is Generation X'ers.
While online websites cannot track exactly who we are talking to, it is always good to take some preventive steps.
How to Avoid Romance Scams/Catfish scams?
- Track the number: These days, several online websites offer the facility for users to track unknown numbers and verify if the person is genuine.
- Keep a check on language acceleration: Scammers want their victims to act quickly because it increases the chances of ignoring details they will otherwise be paying close attention to. However, this is exactly how scammers want their victims to act. But remember, “only scammers rush in” that quickly. A genuine person would never make life-changing decisions in a matter of weeks.
Take a look at the things to do:
According to fund recovery expert Peter Thompson, here are some things to watch out for:
- Scammers confess their love too soon.
- They want to move quickly to a private mode of communication like WhatsApp.
- They always have an excuse not to meet in person.
- They say they live closer to victims but are currently posted overseas.
- They convince the victims into sending money by acting distressed or angry.
- They discourage their targets from speaking to family members.
- They ask targets never to disclose financial help provided to them.
- Never send vast sums of money in one go.
Beware of the fake profiles: Romance scammers may create fake profiles on dating apps like Tinder or social media sites like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or Google Hangouts. The scammers strike up a relationship too fast, too strong. But beware of someone while chatting online.
Telltale signs: In most cases, there are some ways an online user can check if the dating profile is too good to be true. Here are some of them:
- Social media profiles are almost non-existent
- Give excuse not to chat on the phone
- Ask for money
- Suggest they are in a financially bad situation
- Selfies are off-limits
- Joined dating apps but denied to meet in person
- They claim their job is in far locations
- The story doesn’t add up to the present situation
What if Someone Sent Money to a Catfish Scammer?
If the victims have been fooled into giving the scammers some part of their income or their life savings, the best approach is to find the best fund recovery companies in the town.
The fund recovery agents can help the victims of romance scams/ catfish scams file a report to the proper authorities. They also allow the scam victims to track the transaction channels used in liquidating the finances.
Experts will give a clear picture of the situation and provide appropriate counseling to carry out the investigations to recoup the money.
Cyber-Forensics.net is committed to providing the most accurate tracing service for victims of online scams. Cyber-Forensics.net empowers and simplifies the process of tracking down the cyber-criminals and assists in recovering the funds and creating an atmosphere for a negotiated settlement. For more information, please visit http://cyber-forensics.net/.
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