Loneliness: Lonely People can take on a persona to communicate with others and feel admired for feigned accomplishments. They may also tell heart-tugging stories to convince you to send them money, such as an ill family member.
Some catfish are motivated by revenge on their targets. They can troll or harass their victims online and sometimes even seek to hurt them physically.
What Is a Catfish?
Chances are your grandma only married someone within ten miles of her, but dating in the 21st century allows people to connect at distances our grandparents could never have imagined. While platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and chat rooms will enable us to communicate with people worldwide, it also creates opportunities for scammers and catfishers. A catfish is a person who uses fake photos and a false identity to make connections online.
A catfishing meaning is often a lonely person who seeks to cultivate an online persona that reflects a more desirable version of themselves. They may assume a younger person’s photo to appear more attractive or a prosperous professional’s name to garner attention and a more extensive social network. Some catfishers even fake their accomplishments, pretending to have a degree from a top university or a highly-paid job.
A common excuse catfishers use is to avoid face-to-face video chats, claiming their camera is broken or they’re traveling abroad. It’s essential to trust your instincts if you feel something’s off. A quick Google search should reveal whether a profile picture is accurate, and if the person claims to live in one area but suddenly shows up in another city, this indicates they’re not who they say they are. It’s also important to note any sudden changes in behavior that don’t match their reported background, as this is a sign they may be hiding something.
How to Spot a Catfish
Many catfishers want to gain money or status by pretending to be someone else. They may also use the fake identity to troll and harass people online or to get revenge on their ex. They may even use their fake persona to experiment with their sexual preferences. Be wary of anyone who asks you to wire large sums of money, particularly if you still need to meet them in person.
One of the main ways to spot a catfisher is their need for candid photos. Most catfishers can only access the pictures posted on their dating profile or social media page. If they have never sent you a truly in-the-moment selfie, or a photo from an event you’ve spent time talking about, this is a red flag.
It’s also worth checking the person’s social media accounts for friends that are not mutual. This is an excellent way to see if they have a vast network of acquaintances and can vouch for their authenticity.
Finally, running any photos you receive through a reverse image search is always good to see if they pop up anywhere else online. Using a search engine to check the person’s name and any phrases they’ve used in messages can also help you determine whether or not their story is legitimate.
How to Avoid a Catfish
If you’re contacted by someone online who begins to shower you with romance quickly and avoids meeting in person, it might be a catfisher. This type of scam is often used to gain trust and steal personal information or money from victims. Another red flag is if they share intimate details of their life too early or claim to have a deep connection with you. This can be a tactic to make you let your guard down or share information about yourself that could help them hack your accounts and access passwords or even cause physical harm.
People catfish for various reasons, from boosting their egos to exploiting others. They may tell a tall tale of their high-flying career and luxurious lifestyle to reel in unsuspecting targets. The holes in their story can be spotted by researching and checking their social media profiles. The name and profile pictures might not match, or you might find posts from a different account with information that aligns differently with their claims. You can also reverse image search photos to see if other users have stolen them.
Finally, never send a catfish any money. This is a sure sign of a scam and can have devastating consequences for the victim. In most cases, they’ll never get their money back and cannot report the crime to law enforcement. If you suspect you’re catfished, immediately end all contact and update your privacy settings on your accounts so that only friends can view them.
What to Do if You’re Catfished
While pop culture may portray catfishing as rom-com material, it’s just an impersonation scam and a form of cyberstalking or even harassment at worst. Some catfishers assume fake identities for more serious reasons, such as:
Loneliness: If a person feels lonely in real life, they may take on a false persona to communicate with others online. Financial gain: When catfishers build trust with their victim, they often ask for money. This can come in the form of gift cards or mobile payment apps, and they may provide fabricated excuses for needing the funds, like travel expenses or caring for an ill family member.
If you suspect someone you’re talking to is a catfisher, do a reverse image search on their social media profiles. This can help you determine if they’re using photos from the Internet and show you who else they know in their network of friends.
Another red flag is if they refuse to meet in person or engage in video chats. They’ll have a list of excuses ready and try to avoid meeting you face-to-face. They’ll also likely keep their social media networks private to prevent being spotted and may have fewer friends and followers. It would be best if you always were hesitant to give anyone you’ve never met money and never send them personal details like your address or phone number.