Valentine’s Day warning issued for online dating sites

WLFI File Photo
WLFI File Photo

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Valentine’s Day is a time when many people are looking for love; one popular way to do that is on dating web sites.

But now the Better Business Bureau has issued a warning about catfishing, romance schemes where people look steal someone’s identity, money or ruin their reputation.

One of the most well-known cases of catfishing happened in Indiana with Manti Te’o, who thought he was in an online relationship.

In that case, Te’o was publicly humiliated when the relationship was revealed to be a hoax.

“One of the big things is people want to get your financial information, and this is just one of the scams that they use to try to get your personal financial information,” Tim Maniscalo with the Better Business Bureau of Central Indiana said. “So that’s really the big one. People are always looking to steal your money, and that’s probably the biggest one. Also, some people are just trying to play jokes on people.”

The BBB says popular dating apps like Tinder also open the door to user’s personal information.

Tinder uses GPS to connect a user with nearby singles, but it’s concerning because it can be set up to track someone’s location to within one mile.

Tinder also only operates through a Facebook account. The BBB warns that all personal information on a Facebook page may be vulnerable to hackers and security breaches.

So the Better Business Bureau put out a warning to 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 hat this new-found love could be a scam.

If you have a problem click here to contact the Better Business Bureau online or call (317)844-2221. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language, off topic, or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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