Online communication is now the norm and many people prefer to communicate with friends and family via the internet.
Apps like WhatsApp and Messenger make it simple and convenient to stay in touch with old friends and meet new ones. Regrettably, they also make it easier for scammers to act out and cause havoc.
Catfishing has become more common in recent years, and it’s important to know how to avoid becoming a victim of it. The sooner people learn to identify catfishing, they’ll be able to protect themselves in a better way.
What does Catfishing Mean?
Catfishing is a scam in which a person creates a false online identity and uses it to form online relationships. Catfishers use attractive photos of other people, sometimes models or actors, and fabricate narratives with false details to fool victims into believing they are genuine.
Catfishing is frequently used for romantic purposes, with the impostor attempting to win the victim’s affection and establishing a close intimate relationship.
While this type of fraud was not possible prior to the internet, the anonymity afforded by the wild world of the internet allows it to flourish. For their nefarious purposes, fraudsters typically use social networking or dating sites.
Why is Catfishing Called Catfishing?
Catfishing is named after documentary released in 2010, Catfish. Nev Schulman, 26, is a photographer working in 2007. That fall, an 8-year-old girl named Abby gives him a painting of one of his photographs. Nev, moved by Abby’s thoughtfulness and impressed by her artistic talent.
He later begins communicating with her online through her mother, Angela. Nev sends Abby photos, and she sends him paintings based on those photos.
Nev happens to work in the same building as two filmmakers (his brother Ariel Schulman and their mutual friend Henry Joost), who begin documenting Nev and Abby’s friendship. Nev meets a number of Abby’s friends and family members through Facebook.
He eventually meets Abby’s sister, Megan, and their relationship quickly becomes very flirtatious. Nev and Megan fall in love, and the entire thing is conveniently captured on film.
It’s not difficult to predict the story’s outcome after reading this with a modern perspective. Although Nev is madly in love with Megan, he can’t help but notice that some details about her life don’t seem to add up.
He decides to pay her a surprise visit in person at her home in Ishpeming, Michigan — and that’s when he discovers the truth. Megan isn’t real. She’s an online persona created by Angela along with 14 other fictitious characters who have been interacting with Nev for months.
Even Abby isn’t who Nev thought she was — she’s an 8-year-old girl who’s never painted one of his photographs. Angela is the painter.
Why Do People Indulge In Catfishing?
Some catfishing cases are motivated by psychological factors, while others are purely pragmatic or even pose a fatal threat. There are several reasons why people engage in this scam:
A person may seek something in life that they cannot obtain, such as emotional warmth, affection, or a romantic relationship. They can feel these emotions through online communication.
They attempt to establish a strong emotional bond with the victim by relating to deeply personal or even tragic life events.
Catfishing someone is done for financial gain by fabricating various stories about why they require money. For example, scammers may claim to be stuck in a foreign country and need money to get home, or are currently broke and require financial assistance.
However, if they discover that they can get money from you, they will continue to ask for it, and the amounts will most likely increase.
Cases in which online predators used false identities to lure their victims into meeting in person, then robbed, raped, or killed them.
Catfishing is sometimes used by fraudsters to amuse themselves, make fun of others, or manipulate their emotions. This type of abusive behaviour is harmful and can lead to psychological problems or suicidal thoughts in victims.
As you can see, the intensity of the damage varies, but even if an impostor does not cause direct physical harm, being a catfishing victim can be painful. Victims typically put time and effort into the relationship, and discovering the fraud can be upsetting.
- If you notice any of the following patterns in your communication with a new online friend, you may have been a victim of catfishing. The individual is always hesitant to meet or interact in person.
- They make excuses, such as not having a proper camera, being too shy, never having enough time, or living with someone else.
- The profile appears to be too good to be true. If you meet someone who has stunning looks, numerous interests, a perfect lifestyle, and no discernible flaws, they could be a catfish.
- It’s difficult to pinpoint the person’s location, or they’re constantly on the move. Some people travel frequently for work or live a nomadic lifestyle, but catfishers may use these motives to conceal their true whereabouts or to show off their coolness.
- From the start, the relationship quickly escalates. If they are willing to get engaged before getting to know you, it is a sign that something is wrong. You can’t fall in love with someone after just a few lines of online conversation.
- The individual frequently vanishes. Fraudsters will sometimes back off so that they can develop a new narrative to propel the relationship forward. They can even have multiple online “partners” at the same time.
- Their social media profiles appear to be fake. It’s a red flag if they have few friends, aren’t tagged in any photos, and their profile shows little human activity.
- Some facts about their lives do not add up.
- They start asking for money before they even know who you are.
Experiencing Catfishing: Do’s And Don’ts
- If you suspect an online friend is a catfish, you can take the following steps:
- Do not meet someone you do not know well face to face.
- Report the fake profile.
- Never send money or provide personal information that could be used against you.
- Do not click on the links they provide.
- Conduct your own research. Investigate who might be behind the attack.
- Ask Them various questions. Begin by questioning new online social circle to learn as much as you can about them, especially if they are someone you have never met in person.
- Talk to someone you trust if you have any concerns. They might be able to assist in identifying catfishing.
- Change your social media privacy settings. Make your profiles private to reduce the possibility of being catfished.
Catfishing is a deceptive activity scammers enjoy using to obtain sensitive information or even financial assistance from their potential victims. Being aware is essential.
Always be on the lookout for signs that the person you’re interacting with online is not who they claim to be. If you come across a catfish, don’t be afraid to call the person out and report the profile. Stay alert, and you’ll have a safe and enjoyable online experience.
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