Catfishing: How Not to Become a Victim

Manti Te'o Story happens more often than not say Consumer Affairs


By Monique Williams

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO) -- As the fallout of the Manti Te'o story continues, the South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs urges South Carolinians to beware of internet scams like Catfishing.

Like any fish you catch that doesn't seem right, spokesperson for the State Department of Consumer Affairs, Juliana Harris, says throw it back before it bites you.

"The best thing to do is try to avoid it. You can get swept away in matters of the heart but take a step back, think about it."

She warns that the 'Catfishing' internet scam, where someone pretends to be someone they're not and develops a relationship with an unsuspecting victim, can be avoided.

Notre Dame star linebacker Manti Te'o claims it happened to him. Turns out his online girlfriend, who supposedly died of leukemia, never existed. He was reportedly devastated.

To make sure it doesn't happen to you Harris says watch out for *the hook*:

"The hook is playing on your sympathy. A lot of people want drama in their life and it they don't have any, they will fabricate it."

The second thing to look out for is *the catch*:

"If you're talking and things are great then they start asking for the money or personal info, check it out."

She also admonishes if you're going to date online, do so where you live. That way, it's easier to actually meet and talk with the person face-to-face. If not, you may realize, too late, that although there are plenty fish in the sea, there are sharks as well.

Juliana Harris says her office gets about 100 calls a month regarding scams like catfishing. She adds, she believes it occurs more often than it's actually reported because people who have been victimized are too embarrassed to call and report it.

For more information on how to protect yourself, go to

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