Unfortunately, this can happen, so you must know the red flags to keep an eye on. Just like dating in real life, you must also trust your gut.
Cat fishing is a popular online scam, where a person lures you into a friendship or relationship based on false pretense. Since their goal is never to meet you in person, they create an alternate identity. The reasons that people catfish are many, but usually, catfishing is not financially motivated. Instead, they are trying to live vicariously through their online persona. However, catfishing is sometimes executed by someone you know—who is intentionally trying to hurt or manipulate you.
While there is no need to rush into meeting your new online interest, it’s a definite red flag if they avoid live video chat or a face to face meeting—especially if you are IM’ing and emailing frequently. It is even more a red flag if they avoid a phone call, because with the ability to chat through Skype or your dating site, there’s really no reason not to. Remember, sometimes, the person catfishing or scamming you may not be the gender they are claiming to be—or even the age.
Another red flag can be determined by their photo. Now, it’s not to say that a picture-perfect, super ripped, crazy hot, young hottie isn’t really whom you’re talking to, but it’s easy to grab a random photo of anyone and post it to your online dating profile. If their profile pic is the online image they have offered, then ask for more. If they hesitate to provide more images, then they may not be whom they say they are. Again, ask to video chat or meet in person. Also check TinyEye to search for duplicate images on the Internet that might alert you to a scammer. However, even if you can see who they are—they may be trying to scam you.
Many scammers pretend they are from the country you live in, but you can tell from their grammar that your language is clearly not their first language.
If you receive hateful, disrespectful, or otherwise inappropriate messages from other members, report them to your dating website, and use the block features that are available.
Online scammers prey on the open hearts of those looking for love. In your effort to be honest and sincere, you may share private and personal details—however, you must be mindful of what you share. Never discuss money or exchange money. Ever. Do not share identifiers. For example, sharing the country and city you live in differs from sharing your address. Share the work you do, but not where you work. Share the events of your day, but not your exact schedule.
Last but not least, ask similar questions to your interest during your relationship—to ensure that the answers are consistent. As always, trust your instincts. Of course, don't forget to use legit and reliable dating sites only. Check out some of our dating site reviews and hookup dating site reviews to find out which dating site to trust.
Peter McIntyre is a charismatic dating blogger who offers practical advice and relatable insights on modern romance.
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