Catfishing: Signs that your online romance is a scam

The dating scene has transformed a lot in the past years. People mostly meet physically but this is all gradually changing with the rise of online dating. Many people are now meeting online and although this has somewhat simplified dating, it has opened doors for a whole new wave of romantic scams.

Behind the mask of false online identities, scammers have taken advantage of online dating to lure people into romantic relationships for their own selfish motives.

 

This is termed as catfishing — a peculiar new scam where an internet predator creates a fake identity on a social networking platform, usually targeting a specific victim for abuse or fraud.

 

Here are some of the signs of a possible ‘catfish’ set-up;

 

Conceals real identity 

Stella Atuhairwe, a social media enthusiast, says people who look for love online need to be alert because not everyone on these platforms has good intentions.

“Whereas some look for companionship, others use these platforms to solicit money from those who are desperate for love,” she says.

Someone who conceals their identity is one to watch out for.  Net photo

She, therefore, warns that one has to be cautious if the person they are dating declines to reveal their true identity by restricting interaction only on online platforms, or prefers calls rather than video calls.

“This is a sign that there is something they are hiding,” she adds.

The relationship is moving too fast

Winnie Umuhoza who met her husband via Facebook says it’s possible to find true love online, however, people need to be vigilant and strategic. 

Most people, especially women, enter relationships with an intention to commit and start families. So predators know this and use it as a trick to con them, she says.

She warns, “When you meet a person and after weeks they seem willing to settle and start a family with you, chances are high that it’s all a scam and that in the near future, things will backfire in one way or another. The best way is to cut off connections as soon as you can.”

Ask for money 

This as a major red flag. It is strange for someone you have just met online to start soliciting money from you, this is a clear tell-tale sign that what you are dealing with may be a ploy and that you are headed for disaster. Most scammers wait till the relationship has blossomed and they start asking for help in terms of finances. 

Sparse followers 

When you meet someone online, it’s better to check their profiles for the various social media sites. If their profile was created a few weeks before meeting you or has very few followers, chances are high that who you are dealing is not who they say they are.

Stories seem vague 

When your instinct detects something fishy in the conversations you have with the person you are dating online, trust it and dig deep to find out the truth. Look for traces of information that would support what it is that they are telling you, if everything is conflicting and nothing seems to add up, chances are that their whole identity could be built on a lie. And this cannot be a good sign, this is why when such a person suggests a personal meet up, it’s safer to decline and ultimately disconnect from them. 

Your friends are suspicious

When loved ones aren’t convinced or happy about your new found relationship, the best thing is to seriously consider their advice. Sometimes, it’s hard to assess a situation when you are the one in it. But if you tell your friends or family about your relationship and they warn you or advise you against it, then its best to listen to them. 

Your instincts sense danger 

When your instincts tell you that something isn’t right about the person you are with, pay attention.  Always listen to your gut, especially in situations like this. When you sense that something is off or just not right, especially with someone you don’t even know in person, it’s better to end the relationship, for not only your safety but that of your loved ones too.

dmbabazi@newtimesrwanda.com

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