In a fairytale world, we have all imagined meeting our soulmate in the most romantic way possible. You both jump into the same cab at the same time, or maybe it was love at first sight when you were both coincidently sitting alone at a bar. Sorry to say, but this is very unlikely to happen. In this digital era, it’s all about networking. Many have turned to online dating apps to meet their significant other, but it can be a dangerous hunting ground, where even the savviest people can get caught in a net of lies.    

Online dating can be a great way to meet people. It’s especially practical for those who are single parents with limited time, workaholics who are looking for someone that can keep up with their busy lifestyle, or simply someone who is looking for company during this lonesome pandemic where many are self-isolating to keep safe. But no one is safe from this, and instead of finding romance you may find your bank account with a balance of $0. 

Online Dating 

Online dating has become a multibillion-dollar industry with about 270 million users all over the world. This industry has significantly changed the way we meet people and develop relationships, especially due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although more than half (53%) of Americans find online dating to be relatively safe or very safe, there are many who have experienced the common dangers that come with it. Here are some alarming statistics from 2020 that may have you reconsider just how much you trust your online partner:   

  • 71% of people lie to make themselves more attractive 
  • 50% of people set up fake accounts to scam others 
  • 48% of people received unsolicited sexually explicit images or messages 
  • 25% of people get harassed or bullied 
  • 18% of people have been victims of identity theft and data breaches 

Dating apps highlights: 

  • OkCupid saw a 700% increase in dates 
  • Video calls on Bumble increased by 70% 
  • Tinder recorded its highest number of swipes in a day: 3 billion  

Catfish and Deception 

Romance scammers are people who create fake profiles to fool others into financial fraud or relationship gain by lying about their gender, age, marital status, hobbies, or even careers, in order to groom their victims into falling for their trap. Catfish usually disguise themselves through stolen or edited photos of others in order to make themselves more captivating.  

Yikes! Perhaps the Nigerian prince who has an investment opportunity for you isn’t really royalty, and that beautiful blonde Russian woman who claims she is in love with you may actually have ulterior motives… 

According to the FBI’s 2020 Internet Crime Report, 23,751 people reported being victims of confidence fraud and romance cybercrimes worth over $600 million. But it’s not all about the money — catfishing can have severe mental health tolls on victims as well. Many people are vulnerable to their catfish because they are emotionally invested in the time spent getting to know each other. When the jig is up, it can leave victims feeling devasted and betrayed, ultimately leading to future trust issues with other potential partners (online or in person).   

Avoid Getting Catfished 

The term catfish became viral when Nev Shulman fell victim to a woman whom he thought was young and single, when in reality she was in her 40’s and married. Nev’s 2010 documentary, which was based on his personal experience, sparked his popular MTV reality show called Catfish. Not only him, but many celebrities have become prey of catfish. It just goes to show nobody is immune to this cybercrime.   

Finding real online love is still possible though. The process of getting to know someone online involves being realistic and aware rather than throwing caution out the window, as many of us do when we are blind-sided by love. Here are some tips on how to find love online while protecting yourself and your wallet: 

  • Be suspicious if someone contacts you out of nowhere  
  • Don’t give away personal information 
  • Use reputable dating sites 
  • Never send money 
  • Always stay in control 
  • Ask for proof of who they really are  
  • Date people you can meet 
  • Hire a professional who can do an in-depth search 
  • Use logic  
  • Use video chat services 

Netsweeper Protection 

Being online is now necessary as it is the primary source of communication for businesses and personal use. Cybercriminals are on the rise which is why it is important to stay safe by protecting yourself, personal information, and digital devices. Organizations also need to remain proactive when it comes to safeguarding their business and identifying signs of at-risk behavior in employees.  

For more blog posts and tips related to scams, follow our online scam series for the month of July to find out more!   

Submitted by: Natasha Pande