If you spend any time on online dating sites or socializing online, you’ll be well aware of the fabled Catfish.
What is a Catfish? At its simplest, a Catfish is someone who lies online about who they really are.
You might be less cautious while searching for love, as you’re hoping that the person you’re chatting to is as genuine in their feelings as you are. Unfortunately, even if you meet someone seemingly amazing online, it’s always important to keep your guard up if you want to avoid a broken heart, or worse.
How to Spot a Catfish
If your love interest’s picture makes them look like they’re a model, or just suspiciously attractive, it may not be genuine. Intuition can only tell you so much, so use Google’s reverse image search to help you find out where the photo originates.
You also need to be suspicious if they have no pictures in their profile at all. Ask them to send one before you become too invested in them. Or ask them to join you in a video chat. If they refuse and say that they don’t have a webcam (who doesn’t have one these days?) or that they don’t know how to use Skype or similar programs, you’re probably dealing with a catfish.
A Perfect Life
If a person sounds too perfect he might be lying. We all want to present our best side to potential partners. But if someone tells you that they’re a pilot, surgeon, and volunteers at shelters and still has some spare time to watch movies, read books, go running, and raise three cats and four dogs, they might sound perfect but they’re probably lying to you. Also, if their job requires them to fly all around the world and prevents them from meeting anytime soon, be suspicious. If they elaborate on a very traumatic or sad story in their lives that sounds too personal to share with someone they haven’t met yet, they’re probably trying to score sympathy points. Don’t be too surprised if they ask you for financial help.
A 100% Match
If you chat with someone and they say all they right things, it’s probably in order to feed your fantasy. There are no 100% perfect matches (sorry, that’s life) and if someone sounds like a perfect match for you, there’s every chance they’re too good to be true.
Suspicious Social Media Profile
If the person’s social media accounts were created around the time the dating profile was created, it’s a warning sign. If their friend or follower count is too low and there are no other people tagged in their pictures, that’s another one. Also, look at the people commenting on the pictures, statuses or tweets. If no one sounds like a close friend or family member, it’s probably a fake account.
How to Catch a Catfish
Schedule a Meeting
Someone who is pretending to be another person isn’t going to be in a hurry to meet and will postpone the date, as their lie will inevitably be exposed.
Trust Your Instincts
If it’s too good to be true, it probably is. Learn to trust your gut feeling while dating online, if you feel worried or suspicious, trust yourself and dig deeper.
If you found out that you’ve been catfished don’t give the other person any information or pictures, block them from your social media accounts, and recheck your privacy settings.
Most importantly don’t give them any money no matter what story they tell you. If they asked for money you can report a cyber fraud attempt to the police.
It’s also important to report the catfish to the dating site (or/and other sites where you interacted). Some dating sites have a report button on profiles for such cases. You’ll find that most reputable sites take such reports very seriously, and you may save some of your fellow users from a nasty surprise.
Online dating is one of the best ways to find a partner these days. Keeping a hopeful, fun and relaxed approach is always important. However, this needs to be leavened with a healthy dose of caution. Listen to your instincts. If something sounds off about a person, feel free to move on or even block and report them.
A catfishing attempt may be a harmless prank or the result of deep insecurities, but some might be an attempt to get money from you, or get enough information to steal your identity.
So keep an eye out for warning signs, but don’t give up on online dating. These dangerous exist in all aspects of your online and offline lives and shouldn’t deter you from your search for true love.
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