‘Catfishing’ In Boston: Robbers Use Dating Sites To Target Victims

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Catfishing criminals in Boston lure their prey using dating sites, and unwitting victims who go to meet an anonymous match find themselves face-to-face with a gun instead of the friendly person they con­nected with online. “The victims are making contact with an online profile and agreeing to meet the person depicted on the profile at a specific residence,” Boston police said in a community alert, the Boston Herald reports. “When the person arrives outside that location, they are approached by a male suspect armed with a handgun and robbed of their property.”

There have been six incidents in the past five weeks. Police called each incident an act of “catfishing,” a phenomenon in which a person sets up a fake social network or dating site account to deceive a target. About 31 million Americans have used a dating site or app, said a 2013 Pew Research Center study. Finding the culprits should be easy if the criminals are using well-known dating or social networking sites, said one expert. “Any time you do anything on the Web, you're leaving a footprint,” said David Gerzof Richard, a professor at Emerson College. “While this is certainly a threatening situation that these individuals have created, I have to think that the virtual footprint that they've left will lead the police to them.”

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