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Online Dating Scams: How to Tell If You Are Being Baited by a Catfish

One of my lovely  clients had been through the mill during her divorce but had ‘done the work’ on herself, analysed herself over time, turned the corner and was in what I call ‘The Phoenix Stage’ and decided to explore online dating.

My lovely client is intelligent, articulate, successful in her chosen career, savvy and yet she got caught up in a Catfish!

Luckily she had watched the TV programme ‘Catfish’ with her grown up kids and spotted the signs after 6 hours of backwards and forwards with what appeared to be a great guy. They had stayed safe in the dating site for hours and then he suggested moving to Whatsapp, which she thought was a good idea.

She did think ‘Wow – what a great profile photo’ that he put up on his Whatsapp and thought – ‘Gosh I may have hit the jackpot here !’

3 days of backwards and forwards with lovely messages she pushed for a phone chat – he called, his American accent was exciting and she happened to mention something about being careful  and being ‘ Catfished’ when suddenly he said he had to go as he was tired and would speak tomorrow .

She never heard from him again and he took down his Whatsapp photo and had obviously run for the hills!

She hadn’t given away any personal details ( thank goodness ) but was a bit shaken up and actually really disappointed.

She’s wiser, bruised but safe.

So on this  day of lovers ( St Valentine’s Day ) here is Dr. Phil’s online dating advice.

Dr. Phil on Keeping Safe on Online Dating

Dr. Phil on Keeping Safe on Online Dating

‘It’s easy for some of the smartest people to lose all sight of common sense when they’re being reeled in by a catfish: an online imposter who tries to win your sympathy — and your love — by creating an elaborate scheme. Award-winning technology reporter Kurt Knutsson, known around the country as Kurt the CyberGuy, shares his top ten reality checks to see if you’re being baited by a catfish.

If you identify with at least two of the below scenarios, Knutsson says you could be falling prey to a scam artist.
1. Dumb Date Data
Physical descriptions need to be proportional. For example, someone who is 6-feet tall usually does not weigh 90 lbs. Look for any other descriptions that don’t add up to the profile photo.

Tip: Ask them to take a photo holding a unique phrase or their own name on it and send it to you. Ask to have a live video talk using Skype or Facetime. Most of today’s smartphones, tablets and laptops come equipped with a built-in camera and/or video. Someone reluctant to speak on live video, claiming shyness or that they can’t find a camera, should be a red flag.

2. Profile Picture Test
Professional photos are a red flag. Look for amateur photos — and more than one. Tip: Use a Google Goggles search on your phone to see if the photo they’ve shared with you can be spotted elsewhere online. If you see it shown with a watermark or in other settings like modeling websites, it’s likely a fake.

3. Become a Photo Detective
“This just takes it to the next level,” Knutsson says. Look for detail in photos — wedding rings, locations, activities, time of day, how they are dressed — to see if it matches. Someone claiming that a photo is from a July 4th fireworks party, who is dressed in a fur coat, in daylight, might be a dead giveaway that someone is lying.

Tip: Using a free inspection service that shows the location and time that a photo was originally taken can shed light on a photo liar.

4. Cut and Paste Profile Alert
Introductory letters on dating websites are often copied by catfish scammers. See if the same information appears in other places or has been copied from someone else by searching for it online. Out-of-country scams often slip up here, revealing inconsistent information such as landmarks and cultural events that don’t add up. For example, someone claiming to be from St. Louis who isn’t familiar with the iconic Gateway Arch when questioned is likely a liar.

5. Spelling and Grammar Fail
Hear the words when you read their writing, and check their spelling and grammar. A line that sounds like it could be from someone in a far-off country but portraying themselves to be in your same city will usually have a local dialect misfire.

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