Online dating comes with several pros. However, there are some cons that you need to look for as well. One of these is catfishing. Catfishing is when one falls prey to a pretend or fake person online. Being romantically involved with someone who isn’t what they seem or pretend to be is how you become a victim of catfishing.
Catfish or catfishing comes from the famous 2010 movie “Catfish.” It’s a documentary about the lead who falls in love with a supposedly beautiful girl on Facebook, who turns out to be a middle-aged woman.
The movie coined the term “Catfish” as someone who people online and makes them fall for a long-distance relationship for various reasons.
Why Do People Catfish?
There are many reasons why people catfish, the most common is entertainment. They like fooling people and getting a laugh out of it. However, there are many other and more profound reasons for catfishing, like
- Financial gain
- Ego boost
- Need to be needed and be popular
- The need to become someone else because they aren’t satisfied with their looks, body, religion, or race
- To switch genders
- To gain the feeling of being in a real relationship.
Many may not believe how common catfishing has become in the modern dating world. It’s not only about getting filled by someone. It’s also about how catfishing can cause financial distress with emotional and mental devastation. Catfishing may be fun for some, but it’s a mental trauma for the victims. Here are the most common signs of catfishing. Once you learn the signs, it’s easier to weed them out and confront them successfully.
Signs You Are Being Catfished
Always pay heed to the red flags in any relationship, in-person or online. Here are the telltale signs of being catfished.
1. It Takes Very Little for a Relationship to From and Blossom
A catfish is well-versed in trapping its victims emotionally. They know how to talk to them to make them fall for their stories and are desperately in love with an online entity. Not only that, but every Catfish story has one thing in common, how quickly the whole thing escalated. The relationship is formed fast and strong. The hold of a catfish on its victim is due to the emotional bond they create with the latter.
It takes no more than a few chats to start the relationship. In the blink of an eye, you are now romantically involved with this person you just met on the internet. They have never met you but still claim to be head over heels in love with you. It is one major indication of being catfished.
2. Plenty of Pictures But No Live Call or Face Reveal
You will receive calls, texts, and even pictures and videos, but a video call or meeting proposal will never come your way. No matter how much they profess to love you, there will always be one or other excuse for not meeting you or picking up a video call from you.
They are good at dodging away from in-person meetings. So much so that you will start to doubt your gut feeling about this. Their excuses will feel so genuine you will have no choice but to believe them blindly.
3. Scanty Social Media Usage
They might be very active on the platform you met them at, but their social media usage will be sparse. Even if they have active social media, there is no guarantee it’s not fake. It’s easy to forge multiple social media accounts.
If there are few pictures and personal posts, but thousands of friends with no real connection, you are being catfished. A catfish keeps their social media accounts scant. They hardly ever leave a trail that might lead to them.
4. There Is Always A Financial Emergency
The most prominent sign of a catfish is the need for money. You will hear one sob story after another till it leads to them asking for money.
The slow buildup of financial problems and later the request for funds is how you know you are being catfished. No matter how involved you are or how much trust you have in that person, never send large sums of money to anyone you have met online only.
5. A Catfish May Seem Too Good To Be True
The perfect life, business, vacations, and pictures are just a facade to trap you. Their pictures will look nothing but perfect, flawless. The vacation stories, the traveling the world stories, if they all seem too good to be true, most certainly are.
The stories may seem vague, and the hobbies may seem too broad. You will have a hard time getting details. Even the answers about their profession may feel too generic.
6. They are Hardly Ever Available At Your Given Time
Their timings hardly ever match yours; why? Because they have a job that takes them to remote places where communication is hard. If their excuse is always to travel to different parts of Africa or the Middle East for work, you are being catfished. There are two reasons for this,
- They will claim that they can’t video call due to signal issues
- They will ask for money because they were robbed and are now stuck in a foreign country in need of dire financial aid.
When any such beggar knocks on your online door, in the name of love, you make sure not to open even the smallest window. They only need a crack to get through your defenses.
7. Multiple Elaborated Stories
Catfishers are always after something, be it emotional support, money, validation, pity, or just a connection, albeit a fake one. They know how to trap the gullible emotionally. The MO is always the same, i.e., emotional sob stories.
They will try to reel you in through tragic childhood stories or one trauma or another. It is how they create an emotional connection with their victims. How can a stranger be so comfortable with another to tell them their whole life tale in just a couple of chats? It is a red flag, so be careful when dealing with such a person.
8. Professional Photos
No matter how long you have been on social media, your account must have some candid pictures taken from phones. Normal people upload pictures from phones. They also upload plenty of selfies with their friends and family. These candid pictures are far from professional.
However, catfishers can’t upload such pictures for obvious reasons, so they tend to steal professional photos from online platforms. It is how you weed out catfishers; their photos will always be high-quality professional works of art.
It is how they give themselves away. A little research will prove that such professional photos belong to a modeling agency or someplace similar.
9. Catfishers Have Consistent Profile Pictures
The lack of pictures is also apparent in their profile picture. Someone who has so many professional photos can’t resist putting the art on display. But a catfisher will stick with one display picture. They don’t have many pictures of the person they are pretending to be, so they have to be careful with what little they have, hence the seldom change of profile picture, if ever.
If the person you are dating online hardly ever shares pictures with you, has never changed their profile picture, and is reluctant to come on video calls, you are being catfished.
How to Get Proof You are Being Catfished
So, your gut feeling and all the signs mentioned above are telling you that you are being catfished; what should you do to get proof? Here are some precautionary steps you can take to prove that you are being scammed.
1. Google Image Search
Google is a powerful tool when it comes to catching catfishers. Using Google reverse image, you can find the true owner of the photos your scammer has been using all this time.
Just copy and paste the image URL to images.google.com and let Google wizard run its magic to find the culprit. You will see all the platforms where the image has been used. You can easily track who first uploaded it and use that information to prove you are being catfished.
Apart from Google, you can also use a popular app, Veracity. This app is made for online dating apps like Tinder and Bumble. You can save or screenshot the profile of your online scammer and upload it on Veracity for cross-referencing. This app will reveal the true owner of the photos you have uploaded.
Everyone on a dating app has a Facebook. All you need is to check their Facebook thoroughly. You can find many proofs and clues about your catfisher on their social media accounts.
4. Online Presence
Everyone has a track record on Google. If your catfisher has nothing on them when you google their name or pictures, it’s a red flag. Stay away from people with no history on the internet; this means they do not exist.
5. Video Calling
If everything checks out and you are still suspicious, give your online partner an ultimatum for a video call. When dating virtually, if you get emotionally attached to someone you have never met, video calling can be a way to get reassurance.
Collect all the evidence of them asking for money, and you send funds in return. It will help you learn a valuable lesson and act as proof against your scammer. No matter what sob story your partner tells you or how close you are to your online partner. If they ask for a large amount of money, it’s probably a scam.
What To Do IF You Are Being Catfished
After reading all the signs, if an alarm is going off in your head that you are being catfished, here’s what you should do next. Before confronting your catfish, there are some steps you should take to keep yourself safe from harm.
1. Remove All Personal information
You were naive, and you mistakenly sent your details, like passwords or other crucial information, to your catfish. In such a situation, the only way to limit the damage is to change and remove as much information and data as you can from all your public profiles.
Don’t let them know you are on to them. Or they might expedite the theft before you can pull all your information back.
2. Report The Catfish Immediately
If you have proof, great, but even if you don’t have proof, you should still report any suspicious activity that makes you think you are being catfished. You should alert the authorities if you have sent money or given away your personal information.
Social media platforms like Instagram or Facebook have the option to report criminals like catfishers. Moreover, almost all dating apps have a way of reporting suspicious profiles.
Before reporting or blocking the criminal, make sure you have taken screenshots of all chats and information.
Confronting A Catfisher
There is no point confronting an online scammer or a catfisher. They will deny, block, and leave you high and dry, you might get inner satisfaction by telling them off, but that is nothing to be gained. The only thing you can do is report them everywhere you can and hope they learn their lesson.
The emotional trauma of dealing with a catfish can be disturbing. It’s humiliating at the very least, most people who have been catfished feel like they have lost a very dear one, and it’s true to some extent. It may have been fun for the catfish, but for the victim, it was a genuine relationship. Healing from such a devastating episode can be challenging. Seek help to heal, and soon you can trust people again. Not everyone is a scammer. Many people are looking for a decent connection on dating apps; you will soon find a better match.