In the ever evolving digital age, more and more people take to online dating to find a significant other which poses the new risk but now familiar term called.
Catfishing is when an individual will hide behind the identity of an online persona (usually physically attractive) in order to use it for fraudulent or deceptive purposes. There has been movies and TV shows (MTV) that depict "catfishing" as an unattractive individual seeking attention from more attractive partners. However, there are frequently more risks involved than just deception alone.
Aside from the risks of emotional harm of this type of act and time wasted. Some of the other risks include:
- Emotional damage
- Identity Theft
- Credit Card Theft
- Public Embarrassment
If something seems a bit off about a particular new online "friend", chances are reasons you should be avoiding. If you have a hunch that something is not right, it's a good indicator to avoid the situation all together.
Signs to watch out for
- Weird Name
- Friend Numbers (very low or very high)
- No mutual friends
- Few photos, blurry
- Very attractive professionally taken photos
- Little to no comments
- They move very quickly and seem to display a strong emotional bond even though they only know you online.
- The refuse certain interaction such as video chat.
- They get dodgy when you ask them certain questions
- They want you to visit particular websites
- They want some form of financial aid.
- They make over the top promises.
- It seems too good to be true
- Their personal details don't add up
- Vague interaction.
What to do?
Collect as much information as you can about the profile url, and individual as you can without divulging any information about yourself. A private investigator can conduct a social media or background investigation to see if the person does indeed exist and can verify the background of that person. The tools I have to search a persons background are quite extensive and it would be easy for me to see if a person was actually located where they said they were and verify who they were.
If you don't wish to pursue an investigation, please do not let a catfisher linger around on your social media. Block all interaction with the individual as to not let your friends or family fall prey to interaction as well. Best would be to avoid the matter all together.
Update : Dec 18th 2016
I have found that catfishing investigations are quite common and have helped quite a few clients reach peace of mind themselves or a friend of theirs who has fallen victim to one of these schemes and have lost significant amounts of money. If you are unsure if a situation you or a friend is in is involved in some kind of catfishing scheme in some way. Please do not hesitate to contact me immediately. If the person exists then I can pull a full comprehensive profile on them and if it's a fake then it's easy to distinguish that the person is a fake persona and allows you to both report the individual and avoid further exploitation all together.