CatFishing is dangerous and we will tell you why. You might get plenty of follow requests on various social media platforms. And you might accept quite a few if the people look alright to you. However, if one of them wants to become close friends with you. And asks a lot of personal questions, what would you do?
You see it’s easier to figure out several fraudulent adverts and websites. You can immediately catch the pyramid schemes and ignore the make-millions-online-daily ads. But, when it’s a human connection, you can get invested emotionally.
Many people get catfished on the internet without doubting the scammer. Because sometimes the scammers could be very skilled and do everything to make you trust them.
So, this article will discuss what catfishing is in detail and how you can identify it. Also, what measures you can take to avoid being catfished in future.
Catfishing is the term used to refer to online scams done by people, pretending to be someone else. They can become anybody on the internet while you don’t know who they really are behind the screen.
We have seen many films like Tinder Swindler and Sierra Burgess Is a Loser that cover this issue. And while we see a happy ending in the latter, the former one gives us all a reality check. Let’s see what are the reasons that make people do catfishing.
Here are some of the reasons that make people do catfishing.
People with various insecurities:
People with various insecurities often
feel afraid to put themselves out there. They might get scared of judgement and avoid contact with people face to face, hiding their inner feelings and opinions.
But, social media gives them a chance to create a fake profile and build a connection with you.
They might have a hard time making friends or feel like an outcast. So, they may approach you with a fake account. Their intentions might not mean to hurt your feelings or betray you. However, your trust can get shattered. And though this type of catfishing may not have any dangerous consequences, you could feel wronged and betrayed.
People who want to Bully you while Hiding their Identity:
Catfishing is often used by people who want to harass and torment you. They could get close to you to find your secrets. It could be dangerous as they could spread delicate details about you in your family and friends’ circle to bully you.
In this case, the chances are that someone who’s doing it knows you in real life. They might choose to reveal their identity and come out to pester you or remain anonymous and continue the deception.
On the contrary, it doesn’t matter if they know you for real or targetted you on social media randomly. Some sociopath might do it to blackmail you mainly for pleasure.
People who have a Love Interest in you:
People who have a love interest in you may want to stalk you online. They may want to get to know you better and talk to you, pretending to be someone else. Also, sometimes your gf/bf might also catfish you to spy on you or test your love for them.
People who want to take your Money:
There are millions of ways a person can catfish you into giving them your money. Most common form of catfishing also includes various popup ads of “chat with hot girls” that redirect you to a dating website.
After that it demands you to sign up using a credit card. Or your device could get a virus or malware installed in it.
Due to the rise of the internet globally, almost everyone has access to it. The point is you never know who might be catfishing you on the web. From any part of the world until some damage is done.
Catfishing might not always cause you detrimental consequences. However, in some cases it could be lethal. It could easily lead to harassment, assault and believe it or not, MURDER.
So, when you give out major information about yourself to a stranger and decide to meet them in person, you carry all these risks.
And even if you have no danger to your life, you could still bear a loss of finances. Someone might ask you to help them by creating a fake situation.
For example, a friend you made two months ago needs urgent money to pay for their mother’s surgery expenses. Or in another instance, how they lost their wallet in a foreign country and now need some cash as a help immediately.
When you’re engaged online with a person you don’t know, anything can happen. The scammer might use software like spyware or ransomware and install it on your device.
Spyware violates your privacy by tracking your online activity and stealing your credit card passwords. It could also record you using your built-in webcam and blackmail you for money later.
The ransomware is responsible for encryption of data. This means all your work files can be compromised. So, you would have no choice but to pay the catfisher and recover your work data.
All in all, from losing money on fake dating sites signups to taking loans for paying the catfisher to end the blackmailing, you lose more than money.
You can suffer from massive psychological traumas. It isn’t easy to get attached with someone only to find out they were lying to you. And the fact that the whole time you talked to a fake personality without knowing the real person could hurt your emotions intensely. Some people might move on while others could fall into depression after being catfished. That’s why it is essential to identify a catfisher.
Though there aren’t any concrete ways to catch a catfisher, you may find hints and signs that should alert you in your online dealings with strangers.
Catfishers go M.I.A too often:
People who catfish you go missing in action every time you suspect them of something. They especially try to avoid being confronted and become offline immediately. When they fear that they’ll get caught, they might come up with an excuse to end the connection. Also, they could ghost you or block you. If that happens, you can be definite that the person was a catfisher.
To avoid being in this type of situation, you must take extra caution on dating apps and accepting requests on social networks. Look out for any red flags and cut the relationship with such a person instantly.
They try to talk you into using a software app they want:
Beware of those who want you to download some particular software you don’t know about. These days people can use Instagram, Skype, WhatsApp, Zoom and many more popular software apps to communicate through video calls. If they don’t feel comfortable using the app you recommend, it might raise a red flag. It is possible that they are forcing you to use some software of their choice to download spyware on your device. You must take caution if this scenario unfolds.
Catfishers behave too friendly too soon:
There are people who are very outgoing in actual life and make friends quickly. So, you might not think of it much in the beginning. But even extroverts don’t overshare with people they know for a few months only.
However, a catfish wouldn’t waste time sharing intimate details with you. They’ll tell you personal stories pretending they haven’t talked about them to anyone else ever. They’ll make you feel special by saying things like you’re the first person to make them feel vulnerable and warm etc, etc. Here, you have to be careful and further analyze what things the catfisher tells you next. And if they talk about needing any financial help, you must cut ties with them.
They have no social media accounts:
After you make an acquaintance, it’s only natural that you inquire about their social media platforms.
Now, there might be people who don’t use any social platforms to focus on their real life. However, that’s rare. In today’s world you hardly meet a person who doesn’t use even a single social site. And on the contrary, even if they have an account, you also have to look out for signs to check its authenticity.
Scrutinize their posts and friends list. Also, check the date of their last activity. See if there are any comments by friends. This way you can figure out if the profile is fake or not.
They avoid sending latest photos, videos or do video calls with you:
Another red flag could be the catfisher keeping their face anonymous. You might ask them to add you on snapchat and send daily snaps. Perhaps they might do it to win your trust. But you notice they never send photos or videos with them in it.
They also make excuses to not do video calls with you. Or they make it their thing how they are not comfortable or like doing video calls. And for them texting is always a more convenient and comfortable medium of communication. At this point, you may be getting into catfishing so you must really be careful about your interactions. At best you can block the person.
You must also keep this in mind that this bit is tricky because there are all types of catfishers out there. Some might hide their face while some are bold enough to show it. They would pull different tricks to gain your trust. So, you can only do your best to patiently follow any hints you find suspicious.
They bring money-talk on the table:
So, this person you became friends with on social media recently wants help. And they want you to wire some money, throwing a sad story your way. Ofcourse, if it’s not a friend but someone you just started dating, you’d want to look good. And for that you might think sending them some money is the right thing. But, why would a person who started dating you ask for money from you? Wouldn’t they want to look good for you too?
So, if someone who becomes friends with you or starts dating you recently asks for money, know that it is catfishing for sure. Because usually people would go to their immediate family and friends to get financial help. And they’ll never blatantly ask a person they just met not very long ago.
Moreover, if they try to make you invest in some business scheme or work on a startup with them. Beware and take extra caution. Sometimes people con others and make you an accomplice without your knowledge.
The question is if someone tries to get close to you online will it rub you the wrong way and you’d take caution? Or will you trust them, spilling all your secrets?
The answer is you never know how you’d actually react until you get in a situation like that. But now that you know catfishing exists and how it can harm you in many ways, you should become careful in your online interactions.
Never give away your personal information to strangers. It is best that you don’t add people you don’t know personally in your account to begin with. But, if you are someone who likes engaging with strangers, don’t blindly follow their commands.
Ask them difficult questions to check if they are authentic. Do not send them money. And do not settle on excuses they give out just to show them courtesy. You never know who you are talking to online. That’s why taking precautions is necessary.
People often use VPN services like FastVPN to protect their privacy on the web. But, if you end up giving all your secrets away yourself, then even a VPN cannot do anything for you.
FastVPN ensures that their customers are aware of online frauds.
Catfishing is pretty common and happens to almost everyone once in their life. It can compromise your safety in every sense. It’s not only about money but your life too. You don’t want to come across any sociopath or psychopath risking your life.
So, to conclude, take care of yourself online and try not to indulge in relationships that seem suspicious and shady from the beginning. Even on dating apps, you must do everything to verify their identity and let them in your life only if they are genuine and authentic. You must not fall for a catfisher.
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