How do you avoid catphishing on dating sites?

04 juni 2019

We recently wrote a blog post about minors on dating sites. Rather than meeting someone new at a bar or out in the world, these days it’s super common to date online. But the question remains: how safe is online dating really? And what about online dating fraud?

What are phishing and catphishing?

There are two main types of dating fraud: phishing and catphishing. In the case of phishing, the criminal poses as someone else in an attempt to build a relationship with their victim. Once that happens, the scammer uses creative excuses to obtain money from their victim.


In the case of catphishing, money is not a factor. Rather, catphishers tend to create a dating profile full of fake information and someone else’s photos. There are multiple reasons why someone would want to catphish another person. Some offenders are out for revenge (for example a slighted ex) and create a fake profile to make their victim’s life miserable. Others catphish out of sheer boredom. 


Dating fraud data

Numbers from Fraud Help Desk, the Dutch National Anti-Fraud Hotline, show a growing number of victims affected by dating fraud. Last year, 400 instances of fraud were reported by 180 victims.


The total amount of damages suffered by victims last year doubled to 3.3 million euro. Unfortunately, the police are rarely able to act in these cases since the money is transferred freely and voluntarily.


According to André Vermeulen of Fraud Help Desk, the number of people who have been scammed is probably much higher: “In reality, the number of victims is likely ten times higher than we know.” Victims often feel shame about being duped by the actions of a catphish scammer. That shame keeps them from reporting the scam.

 

Unmasking a catphisher

Despite needing to be conscious of whether or not you’re dealing with a catphish situation, anyone could become a victim of such a scam. Profiles are becoming more and more realistic, which makes it much harder to spot a fake profile.


Of course, dating sites want to keep their customers happy. That is really only possible if there is some kind of identity check in place, allowing them to determine whether or not someone is trustworthy. A simple link to a Facebook profile will no longer cut it.


DataChecker has found a suitable solution to lower the odds of catphishing and phishing scams. When an individual registers for a dating website, we recommend the combination of an ID Check and an ID-Selfie. A quick online check that can expose a catphish scammer.


This check authenticates a piece of identification and checks it against the Wwft —the Dutch Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing (Prevention) Act — in combination with an ID-Selfie. That combination helps limit the risk of identity fraud.

Would you like to learn more about the capabilities of these online verification solutions? Contact one of our specialists.