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“Catfish” want your money—don’t take the bait. Here’s how to avoid online romance scams.

Mel Barnes, SVP – Chief Operations Officer

Have you heard the phrase “catfishing?” No, it’s not throwing out a line in an Oklahoma pond in the hopes of catching dinner. “Catfishing” is luring someone into a romantic relationship by way of a fictional online persona. Basically it’s when somebody uses Brad Pitt’s profile photo, claims to be 6’5”, and writes posts that sound like a paperback romance novel. Like a catfish, the practice is as ugly as it gets. 

We’re not a dating advice column, so you know that your finances are involved too. Sadly some of these catfish don’t just want to break your heart, they want to break your bank as well. Don’t let them.

Here’s the scenario—and how to avoid it.

  1. You’ll get a Facebook friend request from some guy who looks like a cross between Chris Hemsworth and George Clooney. Mr. McDreamy (who is really Mr. Wrong) has no other friends or Facebook photos. It’s appropriate he “looks” like a movie star because it’s all an act.
  2. You may also “meet” this guy on an online dating service. Still, look for the trends above: how many photos? Does his profile sound made up?
  3. Mr. Wrong says he lives far away, in which case, run away. You know where this is going. He needs money for a plane ticket to come see you, and asks you to wire him money. Nope.
  4. It’s not just travel expenses though. Mr. Wrong may have all sorts of excuses for needing your money: paying for surgery, customs fees, car repairs, or surgery for his dog, cat or great aunt Edna.
  5. Don’t try to keep track of all the possible excuses. All you need to know is this—if Mr. Wrong asks for money, there’s a 99.9% chance it’s a scam.


For more helpful advice on avoiding romance scams and not getting catfished, check out this article from the Federal Trade Commission. 

Sadly, romance scams aren’t the only way people try to steal your hard-earned money. Check out these other spam alerts, and see how we work hard to keep your money safe.

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