Cat­fish: scam­ming on­line daters out of money

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS -

CRIM­I­NAL gangs are us­ing on­line dat­ing sites to steal hun­dreds of thou­sands of pounds from their vic­tims, the boss of eHar­mony has said.

Fraud­sters are us­ing a tech­nique known as cat­fish­ing, in which a per­son uses a fake iden­tity to at­tract those look­ing for gen­uine dates, to trick vic­tims into send­ing them money.

The cul­prits will of­ten build trust with po­ten­tial vic­tims be­fore beg­ging them for money to help them with an emer­gency sit­u­a­tion, for in­stance a mug­ging or med­i­cal treat­ment.

In ex­treme cases, vic­tims part with hun­dreds of thou­sands of pounds. Cat­fish­ing is also used to fool peo­ple into be­liev­ing they are dat­ing some­one else.

Grant Langston, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the dat­ing ser­vice that boasts 70 mil­lion mem­bers in over 30 coun­tries, told The Mail on Sun­day that “crime or­gan­i­sa­tions” are “al­most al­ways” be­hind cat­fish­ing money scams. His ad­mis­sion comes at a time when fraud against dat­ing app users in the UK is at an all-time high.

Users of dat­ing apps and web­sites in the UK were conned out of over £39m (R663m) in 2016, ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Fraud In­tel­li­gence Bureau.

A woman only iden­ti­fied as Nancy, a 47-year-old sin­gle mother from North York­shire, lost £350 000 (R5.2m) af­ter she was duped by a fraud­ster.

“I wasn’t com­fort­able, and then I got so far in I couldn’t get my­self out, and I didn’t want to walk away hav­ing lost £50 000 or what-haveyou, so you keep go­ing in the hope that you’re wrong and this per­son is gen­uine,” she ex­plained to the BBC. – The In­de­pen­dent

CAT­FISH: Web page of friend­ster. com which is an on­line net­work­ing and dat­ing site.

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