MTV ‘Catfish’ host Nev Schulman shares tips on how to avoid online romance scams


In a world the place individuals meet their vital others online, the opposite finish of the spectrum presents a threat of falling sufferer to romance scams.

Romance scams happen when a prison adopts a pretend id to acquire a sufferer’s belief. The scammer then usually makes use of that connection to manipulate and deceive the unsuspecting particular person.

Since 2017, individuals have reported shedding US$1.3bil (RM5.47bil) to romance scams, in accordance to a report from the Federal Trade Commission.

Nev Schulman, host and govt producer of MTV’s Catfish, spoke to The Charlotte Observer to present shopper tips on how to spot them, and what to do for those who’re victimised.

Who do romance scammers goal?

Anyone could be the goal of a romance rip-off, Schulman mentioned.

“I don’t think there are any groups that are excluded,” he added. “Anybody of any age or demographic could potentially be a target.”

Scammers usually prey on older people who find themselves divorced or widowed due to their emotional hardships, or those that overshare emotions of despair due to their need to type intimate relationships, Schulman mentioned.

What strategies do romance scammers use to trick individuals?

Schulman mentioned there are two essential methods scammers use to lure their victims:

The “buckshot approach,” the place somebody sends hundreds of messages to individuals on relationship apps and social media pretending to be somebody they know.

A focused methodology the place somebody sends messages by a pretend profile to an individual on social media and slowly develops a relationship with them. In this method, an individual often begins what known as “love bombing.” This is a follow the place somebody showers one other particular person with extreme consideration, admiration and affection to make the recipient really feel dependency.

“That oftentimes is very exciting and attractive to people who are looking for relationships and a way to connect with someone,” Schulman mentioned in reference to love bombing. “There are many different versions of it, but these seem to be the two we see the most.”

What are romance scammers trying to receive?

Romance scammers often go after some type of cash, together with money, present playing cards, cash transfers and invoice funds, Schulman mentioned.

“Often it will be a cell phone bill because people will say ‘I really want to keep talking to you, but I can’t pay my phone bill this month, so if you want to keep talking to me, pay my bill,’” he defined. “It may not even be their bill, it could be anyone else.”

Bank statements and social safety numbers could be invaluable to scammers as they can be utilized to take cash or impersonate their victims, Schulman mentioned.

What are indicators of romance scams?

Schulman mentioned individuals can look out for these potential purple flags when chatting with somebody online:

Promising issues that appear too good to be true.

Avoiding in-person conferences or video chats.

Refusing to reply questions on themselves.

Sparse info on their social media or relationship app profile.

How catfishing is used to rip-off individuals

While many of the circumstances Schulman has coated on his present contain tricksters trying to deceive others to assist a pal – or get revenge on them – catfishing may also be used to elicit cash from individuals.

“There are plenty of people who will create catfish profiles, fill them with photos of some other person, create a description and a life story and start sending people friend requests with hopes that any number of them will accept,” Schulman mentioned. “I think it’s pretty easy for people to get them to engage.”

People who fall prey to monetary scams are upset that they have been cheated out of the chance to type a relationship, Schulman mentioned.

“It’s less about the money and more about the loss of that connection, friendship, and trust they believed they had built with someone,” he mentioned. “They feel embarrassed, naive and upset with themselves, and they have a hard time trusting people going forward. That’s really the saddest part about all of this.”

How are you able to confirm somebody’s id?

The finest method to confirm somebody’s id is to meet them in particular person, Schulman mentioned, however doing so can include some dangers.

“They could still lie to you, so you never really know for sure,” he mentioned. “There are websites you can use to run background checks, and search photos and phone numbers. But they’re not necessarily guaranteed to be accurate.

“Some of this stuff feels a little ‘stalker-y,’ but you’re allowed to fact check and verify that someone is who they say they are,” Schulman added. “Don’t feel bad about doing your research.”

What are you able to do for those who get scammed?

If you will have been scammed, you need to report it to the platform the place it occurred, to your financial institution and to the authorities if vital, Schulman mentioned. Unfortunately, normally, there is no such thing as a method to get your a reimbursement, however you possibly can assist make relationship apps and social media websites safer for others. – The Charlotte Observer/Tribune News Service

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