What is Catfishing and How to Spot it?
Dating comes with its own special language which is generally all about bad behaviour! Catfishing is one of the worst terms of that language!
So, what exactly is a Catfishing and how do you spot it?
Catfishing is when someone pretends to be someone they are not on online dating or social media with the intent to scam. They create a fake profile, fake pictures, names and can even pose as a different gender. Generally, it is all about scamming you for money, although not always. A catfisher will chose photos of good looking people and pretend to have a well paid, professional occupation.
The recent terrifying and tragic news story of Emma, who committed suicide after being stalked online and targeted by a malicious catfisher, shows us that online scams are very real and very dangerous. It is also an example where it was not about money and had the worst consequences. Catfishers prey on people who are vulnerable and looking for love, but there are warning signs.
6 Ways to Spot and Avoid Catfishing:
1. If Something Seems to Good to Be True it Generally Is!
If something seems too good to be true it generally is! Dating is a vulnerable environment and scammers understand this. They are skilled at telling you exactly what you have always wanted to hear and tugging on your heartstrings. They will often quickly say how different you are and that they are in love with you. I want to let you people don’t generally do this! Beware of someone going too fast and telling you they love you, I want to tell you that you really cannot love someone you have never met as you honestly don’t know who they really are! It is all too easy to fall for lovely words when you are lonely.
But always remember if you haven’t met the person, they are just words and nothing more.
Make sure you ask questions and don’t take what you are told at face value. It is all too easy to believe what you want to believe. I recommend that you ask all the questions you need to that will put your mind at rest and don’t ever be afraid that you are going to offend someone.
2. It’s NOT real unless you Meet!
No matter how strong a connection you feel that you have with them, someone is NOT real until you meet them in real life. It is easy to lie and say or be anyone in the digital world. I recommend when you are dating online to have a few messages back and forth, then a phone call and meet them as soon as possible. It is too easy to fall for the ‘idea’ of someone that may not match reality. I would also recommend Skype but having said that the new wave of scammers have used Skype calls. So the only way to avoid being the victim of catfishing is meet as soon as possible no matter what sob story or excuses they may give you. If they can’t meet you in a realistic timeframe stop talking to them.
3. Google Them
Google someone you have matched with on an app or dating site to see what comes up, this can save you a whole world of pain. You can reverse search their picture to see if they are who they say they are.
4. Verify their Facebook
It is common for people to duplicate Facebook profiles, like in Emma’s case, so it is a good idea to use Google’s ‘search by image’ feature to identify multiple profiles that are using the same photo. If there are two profiles in the same name and picture (unless of course it is a private and a business account) it could be fishy. Some things that are common for fake Facebook accounts is that they often don’t have a lot of content on them, have many friends, have any friends tagging them in comments/photos, show normal everyday activity or family stuff. If all their photos look perfect, like out of a catalogue or magazine it should be a warning sign.
5. Make sure you Protect Yourself
It is important to take steps to protect yourself online and you can do this by controlling how much information you share. It can be all too easy to steal your identify if you share a lot of personal information online and it makes it easy for clever scammers to trick people. I also recommend having high privacy setting and watching what personal information you share in your conversations with people you don’t know and haven’t yet met, no matter how comfortable you may feel.
6. Watch what you Send
Do not send explicit videos or sexy photos to someone you have never met! This is a common method used by scammers to blackmail you with.
For more information on how to stay safe online click here.
Finally, trust your gut instinct rather than your emotions and don’t let it put you off online dating altogether as with the right strategy you can meet some genuine singles online.