Love Day Heartache: Better Business Bureau Warns of "Catfishing" When Dating Online

February 10, 2014

Contact: Tiffany Whisner
Coles Marketing Communications

Indianapolis, Ind. – With Valentine’s Day quickly approaching, make sure to be informed about anyone you might meet online so you don’t fall for a romance scam. Better Business Bureau® serving Central Indiana encourages consumers to be aware of what is happening around you and to look for specific warning signs.

A relationship scam can start simply. Two people meet online, usually through a dating site. They email, trade pictures, talk on the phone, and soon they’re making plans to meet … and maybe even get married. But as the relationship appears to get stronger, things start to change.

Dating sites offer convenience and anonymity, which is just what scammers need. You may feel you get to know someone through photos, email or chatting, but it’s easy for the person on the other end of the keyboard to conceal the truth. Many people find true love via online dating sites, but there are red flags to watch for that may indicate you’re dealing with a scammer.

“These particular scammers are playing with people’s emotions,” said Tim Maniscalo, president and CEO of Better Business Bureau serving Central Indiana. “Keep an open mind, and watch for indications the relationship is turning into a scam.”

Better Business Bureau is urging people to know the warning signs of “catfishing,” or romance scams. Be wary of anyone who:

  • Asks to talk or chat on an outside email or messaging service. Often, this allows fraudsters to carry out scams without the dating site having a record of the encounter. Remember that scammers play on emotion, and romance is certainly a strong emotion. Any time people are vulnerable, fraudsters find opportunity.
  • Claims to be from this country but is currently traveling, living or working abroad. Scammers come up with all kinds of excuses why they can’t meet in person just yet. Be cautious of online daters who claim to be called away suddenly or in the military and stationed overseas.
  • Asks you for money or credit card information. In some cases, the scammer will claim an emergency like a sick relative or stolen wallet, and he/she will ask you to wire money. The first wire transfer is small, but the requests keep coming and growing. Or he/she may ask for airfare to come for a visit. The payback promises are empty; the money’s gone, and so is the person.
  • Sends you emails containing questionable links to third-party websites. Third-party links can contain malware designed to steal personal information from your computer. Scammers may use third-party links that look credible, but they really only link to viruses that can lead to identity theft.
  • Encourages you to keep the relationship secret. Scammers know the more people that know about the relationship, the greater the possibility someone will see the warning signs and alert the target that this new-found love could be a scam.

To find out more about scams and to read up on the latest, check out BBB Scam Stopper.

Start with someone you can trust. Visit To check the reliability of a company, visit, and to find trustworthy businesses, visit

About Better Business Bureau
BBB's mission is to be the leader in advancing marketplace trust. BBB accomplishes this mission by creating a community of trustworthy businesses, setting standards for marketplace trust, encouraging and supporting best practices, celebrating marketplace role models and denouncing substandard marketplace behavior. Businesses that earn BBB Accreditation contractually agree and adhere to the organization's high standards of ethical business behavior. BBB is the preeminent resource to turn to for objective, unbiased information on businesses and charities. Contact BBB serving Central Indiana at 866-indybbb or visit