VIGO COUNTY, Ind. (WTHI)- Many people are feeling bored and lonely during self-isolation, leaving them to log on to online dating.
In fact, dating profiles such as Bumble and Tinder are reaching a new high during COVID-19.
Experts say this means more fake profiles are in rotation, putting you at risk to scams.
Since the stay-at-home order, Bumble has jumped to a 93% increase.
News 10 spoke with cyber criminologist, William Mackey, who says that anxiety of the pandemic could lead you right into the arms of a "catfish."
The term refers to a fake identity, targeting users for money or fraud.
"Romance fraud is nothing new, we're just seeing a lot more of it because of the pandemic. So, the best thing to rely on really at this point is your gut instinct, you know if something doesn't seem right it's probably not right. It's important to recognize just how common this is and how big of an issue this is," said Mackey.
Catfish are circulating now more than ever because users are logged on more often and stimulus checks are being distributed.
"They know a certain amount of money is coming your way, they try to relate to you, use emotion to get what they want," Mackey explained.
Mackey tells us that there are ways to detect a fake profile.
Red flags include unrealistic backgrounds, requests for money or other personal information, and excuses to avoid face-to-face interaction.
He says this is an issue that's under-reported because those who fall victim feel too embarrassed to warn others.
"They feel as though they've been taken advantage of, they feel incredibly vulnerable and a lot of times they feel kind of dumb they'll feel like they were too stupid or too unaware to have caught that this was happening to them," said Mackey.
Be sure to know the person you're talking to behind the screen and never send money to someone you don't know.