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A romance scam, dating scam or catfishing is a swindle where someone tries to lure another into giving them money through a dating site, email romance, or otherwise dating-related contact.
If you are concerned that you are currently being scammed, please check the Signs of a Dating Scam, first.
Learn more about how to protect yourself with About.com's Guide to Identity Theft.
This article focuses on the folks who have already fallen prey to a dating scam, and what they can do about it.
The first step is to stop communicating with the person trying to romance scam you.
Don't answer their phone calls, block all of their emails (or send them to a folder reserved for future litigation purposes), and don't reply to their instant messages whether in a chat program, on your cell phone or at a dating site.
Make hard copies of everything the dating scammer gave or sent to you, and keep them in a file or binder for safe keeping.
You may also want to contact the local authorities, although they may not be able to help with much other than the documentation needed in the next step of this process.
If this is how you sent the funds, check with the company to see if they can be canceled before being picked up.
When the dating scam occurs through a dating site, make sure to report it through their website. Victims should also check out the FBI's website dedicated to online fraud called Looks Too Good To Be True, which offers scam reporting for citizens of any country, regardless of their location.
Try to gather as much information as you can about the person who frauded you, such as their name, email address, any ids used, the site they contacted you at, the kind of scam, what address they gave you to send money, the dates contact was made, any phone numbers used, the name and address the money was sent to, how much money was sent, any Western Union or banking information receipts, and their IP address.
Unfortunately, by falling prey to a romance scam, you've also opened yourself up to identity theft.
That means printing out all emails, filing every letter received, keeping any related credit card, wire, money order, and/or bank receipts, printing off phone bills, writing out text messages or getting a list from your cell phone provider, filing any related canceled checks, and documenting chats received via instant message.
Most dating scams are perpetrated through Western Union.