A catfish is no longer just a predatory fish. The term has now been coined for a phenomenon that has taken the world by storm. A catfish is a person/s who assumes one or more identities to trick another person into believing they are a real person online. They are known to use fake profile pictures and create a complete ‘make believe’ online life for themselves so they can bait people.
Why is this such a problem?
We are in the age where everything happens online, including socialising and dating. Apps like Tinder are used by approximately 25 million people and are full of these scam artists. Many of these scammers can take these interactions further than just amusement. There have been many cases of theft, suicide and divorce (to name a few) that have been reported. Some relationships go on for years before the catfish is found out and by that point, numerous lives can be permanently damaged.
So how can you spot a Catfish?
- First and foremost, you need to be digital media ‘stalker’…like us. Look up the person on Google, Facebook, Instagram and so on. You will need to look for discrepancies in photographs, biographies etc. if their profile pictures and biographies are too good to be true, then they most likely are.
- Regarding photographs again…look for signs such as wedding rings, locations, their activities and lastly watermarks. Having a watermark on a photo means that the picture is ‘borrowed’ from another website.
- Ask them to Facetime, Skype or Videocall. If they are hesitant, that is an instant red flag.
- The person wants to instant message you straight away, hence taking you off the platform they met you on.
- They are reluctant to meet face to face. Be careful with this one! You can sometimes get so involved in the person’s wiles and advances that you can believe anything. Look out for excuses like, ‘I live too far away’ and ‘My job keeps me very busy’. Really now, if someone is that into you, they will make an effort to meet you in person.
- Ask them lots of questions and be specific. Find out about their job, where they live, their hobbies and family. If they are hesitant to do so, be wary.
- Should all the above check out, test out their physical address and/or business address to confirm that he/she does indeed reside/work there and is not married.
- They become too serious too quickly. They play on your sympathy and strike when you are the most vulnerable and get you caught up in the romance before you even realise it.
- Lastly…if they at any time ask you for money, block the person, cut all ties and report them to the platform on which you met.
We live in dangerous times and we are all humans seeking a connection. But that does not mean you should go into anything blindly. Good luck and be safe out there.