What Is Catfishing?
We have probably all heard about catfishing. Whether it was a local celebrity being scammed, or one of our close friends or even ourselves, it is not a comfortable situation to be in. And we can assure you, no one wants to find themselves in such a case. It is degrading and not to mention embarrassing. Contrary to popular belief, the term “catfishing” has been around for many decades but has gained popularity since 2010.
Have You Ever Been a Victim In a Catfish Scenario?
Catfishing is a practice and bizarre phenomenon where someone creates a fake identity online, builds a relationship with one or multiple other users to exploit them either financially or physically. This is mostly done on dating sites or social media applications such as Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. People who catfish others use fake pictures to disguise who they are.
Dating apps are so deeply integrated into our lives that most people now depend on dating apps to sustain their love lives. This has come with both negative and positive consequences. While you might meet a good guy or girl, the risk of encountering a catfish has exponentially gone from 0 to 100 very quickly.
Have you ever been a victim of a catfish scenario? If yes, what was the specific reason you were catfished? Was the catfish motivated by money, or they just did it for the sake of doing it? After being catfished, most people usually undergo a sense and feeling of betrayal. Being robbed of countless personal time and effort in a false relationship is probably not what you have in mind when you talk with someone online.
Remember, It Is Always Catfish Season
Catfish scenarios are becoming alarmingly common. Why can’t it be like the times our grandparents met? Do not let your guard down when it comes to online relationships. We cannot even count the stories of catfishing we see on the internet. Hundreds of people have at some point or another, been a victim of catfishing. The stories may vary, but the punch line is strikingly similar.
Catfish victims usually end up falling in love with their online partners. A woman may think she is in love with a hot CEO from Texas when in actuality, it is a teenage girl behind that screen.
You are probably wondering why catfish do what they do. Well, some of the reasons a catfish will trap you are:
For financial gain.To defraud a victim. To steal your identity. Seek revenge.Troll you. Loneliness (yes, some catfish are just lonely.)Struggles with real-world connections to people.
Dissatisfaction with their physical appearance. To explore their sexuality (some people prefer the same gender, and are afraid to come out. This can lead to catfishing.)Catfishing out of practicality.
For example, they had to be a certain age to access certain websites. This led them to create entire personas that they later used online to catfish other unsuspecting victims.
In our generation, catfishing has become so popular and so frequent. The sad bit is, it is not yet considered a crime. Growing up in the age of social media and being able to access the internet with a simple swipe or tap, has made catfishing easy and dangerous for the gullible.
How do you know if you are being catfished?
It is very tricky if feelings are involved, to realize that you are being catfished. Most of these con artists rely on your emotions to scam you. Typically, all the warning signs are there, and you just have to go with your gut feeling. However, here are some tips on how to recognize if you have found yourself in a catfishing scenario.
The excuses. When dating someone online, you expect that someday you will meet and get to know each other better. However, if this person refuses to comply, and gives you excuses on the day you are supposed to meet, it is most probably a hoax.
No photos or webcam. In this age and time, let no one tell you they don’t have access to a webcam, in case you want to video chat. Skype video chat is a great way to get to know someone even better. It should be very suspicious if the person you are dating online doesn’t want to video chat with you, or gives you excuses when they don’t pick up your video call. Their photos look too good to be true. Do they look perfect?
Do they look like they just walked straight out of Vogue magazine? Think twice about such photos. They may probably be on google. The same applies to someone whose profile oversells what they do. For example, a pilot, fought cancer and won-twice, building a church in Africa, and climbed the Kilimanjaro. Be wary of such achievements.
Is Your Catfish Asking You For Money?
Asking for money. This is usually the first step after seducing you. Once a catfish is sure they have a grip on you, and you have feelings for them, they usually ask for money. While there is nothing wrong with giving money to the person you love, at least make sure you have met them.
Playing on your emotions. Most people who catfish have noticed that playing on others’ emotions is beneficial in the end. So beware of profiles with ill and sick people. Some of them are scams just waiting for the right sympathetic victim. Low social media count.
All social media profiles had a date when the account was created. Make sure to look for the period the social media account was created. If the account has less than 100 followers, then it might be a trap. Many fraudsters create multiple accounts to set up proof that they exist. You will find a Facebook account with subsequent Instagram, Twitter, and Tinder accounts; all created at the same time.
They profess their love for you very quickly. In the real world, we always tend to take new relationships slowly. Why should it be any different with online dating? If your new online relation professes their love early, they might be trying to play on your emotions. Most of the information they give you doesn’t add up. For example, where they live.
If they say they live in the United Kingdom, and you live in the United States, you will notice some discrepancy when they can’t keep up with the time zones. They have bad grammar and spelling in your communication, despite saying they are from your country. They are most probably from another continent and do not know how to speak or write English. They are merely using basic knowledge of English.
They never have time to meet up, or they have demanding jobs that require them to travel overseas. This justifies the funny times they want to talk and when they are logged on to the dating app. They also never have a permanent address. This is because they travel a lot and work overseas. Trust your gut always.
Do You Sense Something Is Wrong?
Many people who reported being catfished said they always had a feeling that something was wrong. But they ignored it until it was too late. Don’t ignore your gut instinct if it tells you there is something wrong. If something smells fishy, it most probably is.
There are ways to protect yourself from being catfished. If it has already happened, here are things you need to know:
Obviously, you will start to suspect something is wrong after they bring up many excuses and cancel plans last minute. Here is what you can do:
Utilize Google. Google the person’s name. If their name doesn’t show up or brings some irrelevant search results, then it’s time to do deeper digging. You should also do a reverse google image search using the persons’ profile picture.
Does Your Catfish Post Pictures From Other Websites?
The search will tell you where the image is from. Ask a ton of questions. We end up not knowing anything at all about the catfish, and they end up knowing everything about us. Ask where they like to go on weekends. Ask where they grew up and how many siblings they have.
Search around the web to find out stuff. Like the town and street, they said they lived in. You can use google maps too. Take any safety measures to protect yourself. Avoid sending private photos or videos of yourself. We may trust people comfortably, and sadly they never have your best interests at heart.
If you meet your online date for the first time, meet in a public place during the day. You can also bring a friend. Never give them huge sums of money. No matter how sick or “in a bad place” your online interest seems to be in, when they borrow money, and you have never met them, make sure you are not giving large amounts of money.
Do not send them money, no matter the emergency they say they are in. Never give out personal information such as your actual date of birth, bank account details, or social security number. These can be used to steal your identity and rob you of hard-earned money.