Catfishing Is Becoming More Common Among Fraudsters – Don’t Be a Victim
Movies and TV shows have been highlighting stories of people being catfished for decades. No matter the amount of awareness that’s been given to this problem, thousands of people every year fall victim to a catfishing scam. Scams and fraud are on the rise, and they are becoming more and more elaborate. There are even crime rings that use catfishing as a tactic to steal a person’s money, assets, and even personal information.
Even if you think or know the person’s profile is who they say they are, do still remain alert on dating apps and sites. The way catfishers function derives from manipulation. This means that just because they do turn out to be who they say they are, doesn’t mean they are not manipulative.
[RELATED: Signs of Identity Fraud]
What is Catfishing?
A catfish – not to be mistaken by the ones we eat – is a person online who has a false persona or online identity to commit fraud. Many people online tend to hide their true identity on their social media platforms, but when they are impersonating another person then this is when it becomes catfishing.
Catfishing may be done as a joke at first, but like anything on the internet, it goes too far. In dating apps in particular, catfishers have caused so many people heartbreak and financial distress that are hard to recover from.
Key Points to Look at on Their Profile and Social Media Pages
- Vague information on their profile
- All their photos look professionally taken or heavily filtered
- Or, very few photos on their profile
- There are little or no comments on their photos on their posts
- Or, no social media accounts at all
Do note: Even if you think or know the person’s profile is who they say they are, do still remain alert on dating apps and social media. The way catfishers function derives from manipulation. This means that just because they do turn out to be who they say they are, doesn’t mean they are not manipulative. What we would like to emphasize is to always be cautious when talking to someone online that you don’t know.
Is Getting to Meet Them a Difficult Obstacle?
Webcam broken, they’re always busy, several relatives suddenly in the hospital… all of these can be valid excuses for why you can’t see them face to face, but it could also be because they are not who they say they are. Catfishers may not want to reveal what they actually look like if the pictures used aren’t even close to what they look like.
As we mentioned earlier, you can often tell by a person’s profile whether they are real or not, but professional fraudsters know how to blend in. They may have very tactical reasons for why they can’t meet you in person. But some may even be open to meeting, which can still be dangerous if they have bad intentions.
If you do end up meeting them for the first time, be sure it is in a public space. For better safety measures, send a friend or someone you trust their profile, where you’ll be, and even have them do a check-in call at some point during the meet-up. It is better to be a little paranoid than to have the worst happen to you without any information to find the individual.
Does the Relationship Seem to Be Moving Fast?
Do you feel like the two of you just hit it off right away and felt a special connection? Is the person “hinting” their desire for exclusivity with you before or within the first few dates? Does it feel too good to be true? You might want to be careful here. This is what is considered love bombing. Love bombing is when someone showers another with intense affection and admiration. While this may make you feel special, it can also be a form of manipulation. Intense emotions can swing one way or the other in a matter of moments, so keep this in mind.
For safety reasons, it is best to approach talking to people on dating apps and sites with as much caution as you would letting a stranger into your home. It is better to be weird and skeptical than be tricked by a fraudster. No matter how passionate their words are, or send you poetry more beautiful than a sunset, keep your guard up until you can meet them in person and evaluate them yourself.
Does Money Get Brought Up?
Catfishers who are running a scam will always bring up money or finances – that’s what they want to have. They may ask for very specific details about your job or angle questions to get a better idea of your financial status. NEVER discuss how much money you
have or don’t have with people on dating apps. This rarely ends well.
On the other hand, the potential catfisher might flaunt how much money they have or the lavish lifestyle they live to make you interested in them. In reality, they most likely do not have the wealth they project on their photos or even in conversation. This is a trick. Same goes for a person who talks about having a hard time financially.
If you want a genuine connection with someone or just to remain safe, leave finances out of it until much later down the road. If they keep trying to pry or keep pushing you to discuss the kind of money you have, block them. You’ll thank us later.
Are They Bringing Up Their Hardships Early In the Conversation?
As humans, we have a natural tendency to want to help other people. Unfortunately, there are scammers out there that will take advantage of people’s kindness. No matter how well the two of you are hitting it off, a person telling you deep and personal stories from their life early on, keep your guard up because the person you’re talking to could be a catfish.
As a rule of thumb for dating, never feel obligated to meet or do anything for someone just because you feel sorry for them. This is a common manipulation tactic. Even if they are not a catfish, they can still be trying to manipulate you. This is a pattern in behavior we often see in domestic abuse cases, so please stay alert.
How a Private Investigator Can Help
It’s important to know who you are talking to on the other side of the screen – especially if it’s a potential romantic interest. Additionally, finding out who the catfish really is can prevent others from being scammed. For example, if they are asking you to send them money or potentially scamming you, it is best to have someone look into it. You do not know how many people this person could be pulling the same tricks on.
From background investigations to boots on the ground surveillance, our licensed investigators are here to help you. For more information, contact CGA Solutions for a free consultation. And stay safe.