Everything you need to know about CATFISHING
Our online identity is different from our in person identity because we have the power to strategically shape it. Most people do this by editing out blemishes, perhaps using photos that were taken a couple years ago, and highlighting the really interesting and positive things in our lives and bypassing the mundane or negative. Some degree of dishonesty is common online, with less that one third of people on a survey saying that they are always fully honest online. However, framing our online identity to highlight the best parts of us, is very different from purposefully changing our online identity to seduce a strange on the internet, otherwise known as Catfishing.
There are a few main reasons a person may choose to catfish another person. Firstly, they may be a lonely person who feels powerful and sexy when they pretend to be someone else. They do it to boost their self-confidence or perceived desirability. Secondly, that they are a romance scammer and using the fake identity to exhort personal information or money from you.
Catfishing can be done with real life connections too, for example finding an ex’s Tinder and swiping right on them with a different profile image. This may be because the person still has feelings towards their ex, but are worried that their ex won’t talk to them unless they pretend to be someone else. As well, many catfishers pretend to be famous people, to get attention that they don’t receive in their real lives.
What are some signs that somebody might be catfishing you?
Their photos are incredibly sexy and seem too good to be true (almost like they googled “sexy man” and these are the photos that came up.) Sometimes there are super hot internet strangers that genuinely think you are cool and interesting and want to get to know you, however, if the most attractive person you’ve ever seen randomly seems emotionally attached to you, this may be a sign of a catfisher. Or if you look closely at their photos and they are actually of an Instagram model, that often isn’t a great sign. There are several image search sites online that you can use to try and identify who the person in the photos really is such as Google image search.
A catastrophe comes up when you plan to meet in person or video chat. It is NOT a good sign if the person seems eager to meet you, but somehow right before your first meeting, they message you that they got pulled over by the cops, or that their aunt just died. Often catfishers will make up elaborate excuses to not meet in person, as meeting in person will likely expose their lies and ruin the connection they feel they have with you.
How can you protect yourself from Catfishing?
Don’t be too quick to jump into conversations off the website where you just met. This affords you some security and allows you to continue getting to know the person without the need to pass on more personal identifying information like your phone number or email. Romance scammers will try to encourage you to get off the website into a conversation elsewhere very fast, this is a red flag.
Don’t be afraid to ask for specifics, and grill them if their stories don’t seem to make sense.
When you do meet someone, start by meeting in public, before going anywhere private with them. If it’s for a hookup, meet them at a hotel bar for a drink before inviting someone straight to your room.
If you are requested to send money to someone online, just don’t. This is never a good idea, no matter what the reasons they give you; and it will likely keep the catfisher coming back for more and more money until your pockets are empty.
What do you do if you get caught in a catfish relationship?
Immediately disconnect. Begin by blocking their email, skype and phone number. However, blocking their accounts may be insufficient, as they may be able to access your information by creating a new account. Instead, you should disable your Facebook for at least t.wo or three weeks, so that ideally they will give up on you and move onto the next person. Do not respond to anything that the person says to you, as it may encourage them. If you have sent money via western union, you can check to see if it has been collected and if not stop the payment before it is collected by the scammer.
Most importantly, trust your gut, and resist the urges of your sexual organs. Often, people feel that something might be fishy, but don’t trust their inner voice. You need to take care of yourself, and if you think you should block and delete someone, do it.