Looking for love in all the wrong places: Online romance fraud on the rise

Dating has moved from in-person to behind the keyboard and the transition has put some of you at risk to scams.

Posted: Feb 19, 2020 9:37 AM

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI)- Dating has moved from in-person to behind the keyboard and the transition has put some of you at risk to scams.

According to the FTC, last year online users lost $201 million dollars to scammers.

It's not only happening across American but also right here in Indiana. 

News 10 spoke with Dr. William Mackey, a cybercrime professor at Indiana State University.

He shared a recent study by FBI uniform crime reports, that found on average $19,000 dollars we're being scammed in the Hoosier state.

This number is up by $7,000 dollars from 2017.

The study also revealed that about 4 out of every 100,000 falls victim to romance fraud.

Romance scammers also go by the name of catfish. The term refers to someone who has created an online persona for an agenda. 

So how does it work?

A catfish builds a relationship and then asks for money to visit the loved one. They also tend to use other excuses for extra cash.

Sarah Ewigleben, a criminology major at ISU says catfish tend to go for more vulnerable online users. 

"They're looking for affection, they're looking for some communication because they probably don't have a lot of interactions with people and those scammers take hold of that and prey on their weaknesses," Ewigleben explained.

So, how can you avoid the risks?

Ewigleben says by asking for more information and seeing more pictures.

"Ask hey, where are you truly from? What is your full name? Do you have Instagram? Snap chat? Let me see your face, let me see who you actually are," Ewigleben said.

Trust your gut. If it feels off it most likely is.

"Just be careful, it's happening more often to more people around the world."

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