Last updated on Jun 11th, 2021 at 10:43 am

Women between the ages of 55 and 65 are the most common victims of online dating scams. Don’t put your safety in jeopardy in your pursuit of love, romance and your soul mate…

Online dating is gaining momentum year on year and while it may be a space to find your so called “soul mate”, it is also an opportunity for fraudsters to take advantage of your good nature and intercept your personal information through catfishing.

What is Catfishing?

“Catfishing is a deceptive activity where a person creates a fictional persona or fake identity on a social networking service, usually targeting a specific victim,” according to Wikipedia.

According to Norton’s recently released guide on romance scams, these cons are up with “romance scams being the second-most reported crime to the FBI in recent years, with over 25,000 consumers affected and losses amounting to $201 million (Almost R3 billion).

How to identify frogs before you date them – Top tips for online dating

Subscribe to our Free Daily All4Women Newsletter to enter

It’s shocking but it is a reality

Behind a PC in your home, you can be anyone you want to be, and while dishonesty won’t go a long way in one’s romantic endeavours, fewer than a third of people in one survey claimed they were always honest in online interactions, and what’s worse they expected others not to be truthful as well. Lies are meant to make the person telling them seem better somehow – more attractive, more engaging or more charming.

According to the guide, oversharing of personal information is a big problem – and people just don’t realise the dangers their opening themselves up to.

Warning signs your ‘love’ might be catfishing you

  • Your potential partner’s location is of utmost importance, so pay attention! If they’re too far away and cannot meet in person or have a job where they’re stationed “at sea” it should certainly raise some red flags.
  • Suss out their profile. If it seems too good to be true, chances are it is! Legit profiles will showcase a lot about the person, a range of photos etc giving a window into that person’s life – but if details are sketchy and pictures are minimal, those alarm bells in your mind need to start ringing!
  • Scammers like to move things along quickly so professions of love are done very early on while they also attempt to move your relationship of the dating site and onto a more informal, personal platform in order to gain your trust, watch out for those! It’s also a good idea to pay attention to your conversations and consider the following red flags:
    • The person’s messages look like they could be copy-and-pasted into any conversation.
    • The conversation doesn’t flow or make sense.
    • Grammar and spelling are way off.
  • If your potential suitor begins selling you sad stories as to why they need money, but you have yet to even meet them, do not fall for it! In a genuine engagement, the chances of your suitor asking you for money while barely knowing you is minimal, so be smart!
  • If they asking you for unusual methods of payment that should also raise some questions. For example, if they require a wire transfer or a gift card.

It’s a jungle out there – How to navigate the dating scene if you’re over 30

So who’s at risk?

Women sadly are most at risk, but beyond that the report says older people between the ages of 55 and 65 are high on the target list.

“Older adults reportedly lost nearly $84 million (R1,2 billion) in romance scams in 2019.”

According to the report, a good percentage of losses was done through wired banking transactions.