Is a stranger contacting you out of the blue?

You might be the target of a catfish or romance scammer. Here are some easy ways to determine if your new “friend” is really just someone trying to steal your identity or money.

Be wary of unexpected invitations to connect from total strangers, especially if the profile picture is very attractive, the person lives a long distance for you or is not within your age group.

If your new acquaintance seems to have a lot in common with you, think twice. This is how catfishers build an emotional relationship with you.

If the new friend can never meet, talk live on the phone or have a video conference with you, that’s a red flag.

Want more information?

Check out this YouTube video or visit our Safety page.

How to spot cybercriminals posing as a love interest

5 clues to help you spot romance scammers

A new friend or love interest you’ve met on social media can make you feel great AND take you for an expensive financial ride. Oasis Connections shares five tips you can use immediately to assess whether the person you are interacting with is real or an impostor who wants a relationship with your bank account.

Losses from romance scams have increased dramatically since 2015 and are documented by the FTC here:

Older adults often have more financial assets and therefore, lose more financially.

How can you spot a potential catfisher or online imposter?

  • 1. The invitation to connect is unexpected and from a total stranger. Be especially wary of:

    a. profile pictures that are very attractive
    b. people who live a long distance from you
    c. people who are not within your age group

  • 2. This new acquaintance seems to have a lot in common with you. The more the catfisher has in common with you, the easier it is for them to build an emotional relationship with you.
  • 3. The new acquaintance can never meet, talk live on the phone or video conference.
  • 4. The new acquaintance has a misfortune or a series of them. Common crises include broken smart phones, vehicle breakdowns or medical emergencies which all require cash from you to solve them.
  • 5. Criminals using catfishing scams rely on wire transfers and gift cards because they give the impostor instant cash and are also impossible to trace.

Oasis Connections has been teaching adults to be safe online since 2004. To test your online safety knowledge visit

AT&T supports the Oasis Institute, a non-profit educational organization that promotes healthy aging through lifelong learning, active lifestyles and volunteer engagement.