I was Catfished and Scammed.
Following up on Online Dating Red Flags, I'm telling my story of the time I was catfished and scammed.
Scrolling across tinder, I practised obvious internet safety:
If someone seems fishy, requested anything too soon or seemed too good to be real, it was a scam. I practised basic internet safety:
- never give out personal information to someone you've met online,
- before meeting have their social media and ensure it’s authentic (are there likes on pictures, communication from friends and are the friend's profiles real?)
- Reverse image search their pictures and google their name just to be safe.
- When sending a picture to someone, always screenshot your picture while your phone is in aeroplane mode, to ensure you don't fall victim to geotagging and reveal your location.
However, I only reversed searched images when it seemed fishy, and I accept the fact that some people don’t have social media.
Yet, none of my internet safety prepared me for the con-man coming my way. If I had of googled his name or reversed searched his images I would have been alarmed. The number of people stating they had been scammed from him, ranging from a real estate scam in New York to “friends” being scammed out thousands of dollars.
I wasn't initially suspicious of this person because they fulfilled all of my safety fears. We met in public, he was well dressed and punctual, smart and successful and he even fronted the bill at expensive restaurants, which were, of course, his choice. While we were not intimate as we met on a business app, similar to LinkedIn, bumble biz. We were good friends and encouraged each other in business, which gave me even less of a reason to consider him to be deceitful.
We built up a friendship over a few months. Everything changed when he called one day saying the laptop he ordered had not arrived and he needed to borrow mine until then. A few weeks after he sent an image showing that his credit cards had been maxed out and asked to borrow $300 for rent. I loaned the cash seeing as he could easily spend so much on dinners, I assumed he surely would be fine to pay this back.
After a few weeks of chasing him up about my laptop with no contact from him, he responded to me saying he travelled to New York for work. He claimed to have “tried” calling me before he left, without an answer and stated he had shipped back my laptop to my address. That shipment never arrived, and when I followed this up with him, he said he could easily claim it on insurance.
Safe to say when he started asking me to replace the laptop at my own cost and hand over a receipt I was 100% confident he had scammed me. While I had a few doubts forming after he asked for rent he always had the right answers to satisfy my fears.
I was in despair, not only had I been duped out of my year-old laptop, but also $300. I began to notice that I was angry and distrusting in interactions with those closest to me. I swallowed my pride and admitted that I had been deceived. It took a few months for me to gain my confidence back and I no longer give strangers the benefit of the doubt. I was catfished and scammed and I hope my experience is a lesson for you all.
Trust is earned not given.
As long as I didn’t have to continue to deal with this human, I was better off. The reality of these situations is that the victim feels so ashamed they’re not going to persuade anything and would rather fix the problem themselves or move on. When contacting the network I met this person on, bumble biz, I received no response and I know this man is on multiple social networks looking for prey.
Even someone who presents themselves as a friend can be deceitful, someone who pays all the bills can have no money. Someone who wants you to do something will do anything to make it possible. Play with caution.
If you want to learn more about online safety please read Online Dating Red Flags.