Catfishing is when someone sets up a fake online profile to trick people who are looking for love, usually to get money out of them. If you're online dating, read these tips so you know how to spot a catfish.

6 signs someone might be a catfish

  1. You've searched their name on the internet but they don't seem to exist. Or they do, but the photos don't match the photos on their dating profile.
  2. They're asking for money early into your relationship. They might be saying it's to come and visit you.
  3. They're telling you they love you, but you've only been talking for a couple of days or weeks.
  4. They're avoiding face-to-face contact, either meeting up or video chats.
  5. They're just a little bit too perfect.
  6. Their stories sometimes conflict with each other, or don't quite add up.

Who can I talk to if I’ve been scammed?

  • Tell your bank or financial institution immediately if you notice a suspicious transaction from your bank account or credit card. They will try to recover any money lost. They may cancel your current card and send you a new one to stop any other fraudulent transactions from your account.
  • Report the scam to the police.
  • Also contact Action Fraud using their online fraud reporting tool. You can do this any time of the day or night. You can also report fraud by calling the Action Fraud team on 0300 123 2040.
  • Contact Victim Support or Think Jessica if a scam has made you feel anxious, fearful or guilty. They provide emotional and practical help to victims of crimes and scams.
  • Contact Lifeline on 0808 808 8000 the 24-hour Samaritans helpline on 116 123 if you feel low or anxious and need someone to talk to.
  • If you need care and support, you can contact your local council’s adult social services department. They can provide safeguarding support, and will work with you to consider what action to take.
  • Contact Citizens Advice if you’re having trouble paying your bills and are worried about what to do.

What are the signs that a relative or friend has been scammed?

You may be worried that someone you know has become victim to a scam. Look out for these warning signs:

  • Unusual amounts of post or letters in their home
  • Evidence of large cash withdrawals or multiple cheque payments
  • Lack of money to pay for other things
  • Lots of phone calls from strangers or companies.

Some scam victims don’t realise that they are being scammed, or refuse to believe it. They may feel that the scammers are their friends, or that their returns or prizes will come through if they continue to respond. This can make it very difficult to talk to them about getting help.

How can I help a relative or friend if they’ve been scammed?

Raise the subject with them sensitively – perhaps by asking them about the calls and mail they receive. See if they might be willing to register for the Mail Preference Service and the Telephone Preference Service to help block some of the calls and mail.

  1. Help them to report the fraud. You can report fraud to Action Fraud on behalf of someone, or encourage them to report it. It’s advised that you get permission from the victim before reporting the fraud on their behalf, but you can report the fraud without their permission.
  2. Find support locally. The government has advised that internet scams, postal scams and doorstep crime are all forms of financial abuse and are often targeted at adults who need care and support.