With a lot of people around the globe spending more time online instead of outdoors now due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it is important that people are cautious online. 

Catfishing is one of the worst type of scams as you never truly know who is behind the keyboard scamming you. If you are still unsure as to what catfishing is, according to the urban dictionary catfishing is to lure (someone) into a relationship by means of a fictional online persona.

 

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According to a 2020 report by Best VPN in 2018, 18 000 people were victims of catfishing, or romance fraud, in the United States of America. 

The report also offers the following tips to help you avoid ever falling victim of catfishing. 

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Tips to avoid being catfished

Whether you live in a highly catfished state or not, everyone should take precautions online, especially when using online dating sites. To stay safe online, here are some tips to follow: 

Do not send money – ever

No matter what the circumstance, don’t ever send someone money to someone you’ve met online. If you do send money, and realize after the fact that you’ve been scammed, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll ever get your money back. 

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Never give out sensitive information

There are certain things you should never reveal about yourself. For example, sensitive information that could make you a victim of a crime, like your bank account number, credit card number, or social security number should never be shared.

In addition, you should never open a bank account for someone either.

Use a VPN

To add an extra layer of security, consider using a VPN, or virtual private network, while you’re online. It creates a secure connection, keeps your browsing history private, can mask your location, and helps prevent crimes like identity theft. 

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Do some online research

When you meet someone online, Google their name and see what comes up. You should also run a reverse search on their profile picture to make sure the picture isn’t attached to several different identities.

Explore the person’s social profiles and look at pictures with friends, a history of activity, and a good number of friends. A profile with five friends, two posts, and no pictures with friends or family should serve as a red flag.

Beware of talking off the dating site

Scammers know that dating sites track conversations, so they often ask to move the conversation to another platform. They might ask for your phone number to text, for example. If you’re asked to chat on your personal cell phone immediately, there’s probably a reason.

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Watch for common themes

Catfishers tend to use the same deceptive themes. As you connect with people online, be on the lookout for people who say they’re from the U.S., but currently live or work overseas. 

Scammers might say they’re in the military serving abroad since this position instantly evokes a sense of respect and trust. In time, they have some sort of financial crisis that requires your help.

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