What is Catfishing?

Catfishing is an online term that is used to describe someone who pretends to be someone they are not. The most common way to catfish is to claim to be the opposite sex to what they are. There are many ways of achieving this however they all fall under this one umbrella. The term catfishing became popular in the early 21st century.

Some people consider catfishing as a joke, but it has some very serious repercussions. Starting relationships with people under deceitful pretenses can put vulnerable people under suicide risk. There can also be legal ramifications. If you receive gifts of any kind by purposely misleading someone as to who you are, you can actually be prosecuted and forced to pay back what you were given, you could even end up behind bars.

There are many ways to discover if someone is catfishing you. If you have been in contact for a length of time or developed an individual relationship and the character refuses to show you a picture or to talk with you in any way that is not anonymous, it is a good sign this person is not who they say they are. Alternatively, if a person sends you a picture, and you are not sure it is a true picture of them, you can go on Google reverse image search or TinEye and reverse search the image. What this does is look for the image you supply and show you anywhere it has been used on the internet. By doing this you can find out if the person is using a photo that is available on the internet to download somewhere else.

Another way to tell if someone is being dishonest is by their ill-defined answers. A person who is catfishing becomes the king or queen of vague answers or outlandish stories derived to throw you off of whatever doubts you might have. If you ask where they live, and they say somewhere in [country name], if you ask what city, and they say a small one, warning signs should be going off.

Obviously on the other hand don’t expect to ask someone who you’ve just connected with online to tell you where they live.

If their stories seem too good to be true, they probably are. If for instance they claim to have won an award the chances are you could find this somewhere on the internet. Obviously don’t become a stalker yourself but sometimes a little research doesn’t cause any harm.

Don’t ever send money to someone you do not know. If you have engaged in conversation with someone for a short period, and they begin to tell you they love you and all they need is a plane ticket, and they will be with you forever, avoid them at all costs. These types of people target those vulnerable or are simply willing to try their luck. Do not fall for their trap!

If at any time someone you speak with threatens you, contact the police immediately. If you feel uncomfortable cease contact, block the person you are talking to and if needed reach out for help. 

Anything you put out on the internet can be found. Do not place things there you would rather others not know. It does not matter how private you think that information is. If you have it online, someone can hack it, and they can use it against you. Catfish use your own insecurities against you. They dig and find the weak spots and exploit that. Under no circumstances let your emotions take over and make choices you would never make otherwise. If you are emotional, step back and breathe, and then consider the situation and choices you are making again. By being aware these people are out there, you are already one step ahead of the game.

You control the risk you take. You are the only one who can decide if the risk is worth the gain. Protect yourself and what you see as important by not letting these types of people get the best of you.

Catfishing people can only catfish as long as they have victims. Do not be a victim.

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