If you’ve ever watched MTV’s Catfish series, you’re most likely familiar with the term catfishing. A catfish is a person who uses the Internet (and online dating sites) to lure unsuspicious people into a scam romance. Online websites and dating apps are plagued with fraudulent profiles. The person you talk to pretends to be a highly successful, attractive lawyer when, in reality, they’re a 16-year-old boy.
The catfish uses someone else’s photo or an image they randomly found on the Internet and uses that false identity for deception. Even if catfishing is regarded as something only adults do on dating sites, it’s now become a widespread problem among adolescents.
In today’s world of technology, we connect online. Regrettably, this reality leaves us vulnerable to possible scams. More often than not, catfishing is done for financial gain and other benefits. The scammer strikes up a conversation and does their best to gain your trust. At times, they talk and chat with you several times a day. Most importantly, they make up a story and ask for money.
They can ask you to wire money, reload their card, or send gifts to get cash quickly. In other cases, a person will engage in catfishing to gain sexual access by pretending to be someone else. When the scammer has been exposed, you wonder how you could have been so naïve.
Where are you most likely to be catfished?
In spite of widespread awareness of catfish scams, people still fall for these deceptive activities. Probably because a catfish scam is difficult to spot. Keep in mind that people aren’t who they say they are. It’s estimated that roughly 95% of profiles are fake and catfish are mediocre at best. The online scam is widespread across countries and many argue that it should be made illegal. Such an incident can affect the mental stability of the victim and even lead to depression. You feel that you can’t trust anyone anymore.
According to a study done by digital security website Techshielder the following nations have the biggest problems with catfishing. This is where you’re most likely to be scammed in romance:
- United Kingdom
- United Arab Emirates
- South Africa
It’s recommended to exercise caution when you’re on the Internet. Anyone can be a scammer, whether a stranger or your ex-partner. Always look for signs. Here’s what you need to look out for if you think you might be deceived:
- Your pal refuses to video chat
- They don’t send you a selfie in the moment
- The person you’re talking to rarely pick up phone calls
- They always find an excuse for not meeting in person
These are just some of the warning signs to be aware of. Don’t feel embarrassed or ashamed if you’ve been catfished. It’s not your fault, so don’t give yourself a hard time. Take the necessary steps to end the relationship and be active in your recovery. You can reach out to family and friends, who have your best interest at heart. They’ll help you get through this hard time. From now on, when you meet someone new online, do a reverse image search, don’t send sensitive photos, and, most importantly, trust your intuition.
People choose to catfish other people for various reasons
Why would someone talk to you for hours on end if they don’t ask for money or something else tangible? Surprising as it may seem, money isn’t everything. People choose to intentionally deceive others because they want acceptance, companionship, and love. Therefore, they use false information to cultivate an online persona that doesn’t reflect their true identity. Simply put, these individuals want to become more popular and make friends. They’re not happy with the way they look or perhaps have difficulty in cultivating social connections.
If a person feels bad about who they are in real life, they’ll try to create an identity that’s more appealing or worthy. Catfishing offers a form of escapism. Other catfish aren’t so harmless as they seem. Many individuals suffer from various forms of mental illness, such as depression. They lie all the time, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that catfish don’t feel any discomfort telling lies. Actually, they get better and better at it. Catfish hide their identity and troll others. They might be seeking revenge on previous partners or people they consider unworthy.
Catfishing isn’t considered a criminal fraud (not yet, at least), but it’s a form of harassment. A scammer can create multiple accounts to maximize the emotional impact of their actions. They use the victim’s images or information to humiliate them. The individual with the fake profile engaged in criminal actions via infringement of intellectual property, defamation, and so on. An ever-increasing number of people are taking part in such forms of abuse. It’s the duty of the victim to reach out to the authorities and offer evidence against the catfish. They should be punished for their wrongdoing.
You should never give money to Internet strangers
Make sure that your online date is trying to steal your heart, not your money. It’s never a good idea to send money to Internet strangers, no matter how convincing their arguments might be. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. A scammer will make all sorts of excuses when asking for money. They’ll ask for money saying that they need to pay for an emergency medical procedure or they’ve come across an unexpected problem while traveling. The aim is to trick you into willingly handing them cash. Never send money to someone you haven’t met in person.
The bottom line is that catfish can come up with various convincing stories to get your money. Understand that there’s no way to reverse a transfer or trace the money. It’s not always about the money. The catfish might want to seek revenge or simply make your life a living hell. If you ever find yourself in an unpleasant situation, make copies of the conversations. This way, you have proof that something fraudulent happened.