~ Lynette Rees ~
* What is a Catfish?
No, I’m not referring to the sort that swims in the sea and ends up on your dinner plate... but the other sort of the human variety, so cunning and devious that they waste a lot of your time pretending to be someone they’re not. All the while you might be investing your time on this new romantic interest that underneath it all, isn’t quite what they appear to be.
A Catfish is someone who creates a false profile usually on a social networking site like, Facebook, with the intention of duping you.
What their motive might be is not always clear initially, but usually they are suffering from a low self esteem so post attractive photographs of someone else that often make them look like a supermodel, body builder, actor, or even the attractive girl or handsome guy next door.
* Why do they do this?
They might do this in some instances as a case of revenge, to procure money, to feel powerful, alleviate boredom and definitely to get into your mind to make you want to fall in love with them.
* What do all these people have in common?
They’re all too good to be true. They often claim to be models, body builders, exotic dancers, actors, fashion designers or maybe something else that puts them in the public eye.
Catfishing has become so common that there was even a documentary made about the phenomenon, released in 2010, coincidentally called, ‘Catfish’. Yaniv ‘Nev’ Schulman was duped by an attractive young woman called ‘Megan’ and they formed an online romantic relationship, exchanging texts and emails, which he was soon to discover was fake. Ironically when he discovered ‘Megan’s’ real identity it was the person who posed as ‘Megan’s Mom’, who was catfishing him. Nev, being a very forgiving kind of guy, even though ‘Megan’ had broken his heart, became friends with her alter ego, though this doesn’t usually happen. Nev went on to create a successful MTV series based on this concept.
* So how do you assure this doesn’t happen to you?
Well there are several red flags you can look out for:
1. Does your love interest only display one or two personal photographs on their social networking site? Do they look highly professional? e.g., studio prints. This might indicate they have lifted their photograph from someone else’s profile or web page. If they are genuine they would most likely have several casual shots taken with family or friends too.
2. Tagging. Is there any sign of them being tagged in photographs with other people? If not, it might be a sign they aren’t genuine. Although this isn’t always the case as some people choose to disable the ‘tagging option’ on Facebook.
3. Do they have very few Facebook friends? That can also be a good indicator that the account is fake. As Fakes often set up a few accounts with low numbers of friends.
4. Do they refuse to give you their home and/or mobile/cell phone number when you ask? If they do, they could well be hiding something here, like they are married/in a relationship or not the person they claim to be.
5. Do they make excuses about meeting up with you? Every time you mention meeting him or her, do they make an excuse or back out at the last minute with an incredible excuse. Some Catfishes have been known to claim themself, or a family member, was rushed into hospital following injury or accident.
6. Do they make excuses why they can’t talk to you on Skype? For example, some will claim they haven’t got it installed or don’t have a webcam. Skype is simple and free to install and webcams these days are dirt cheap or already built in to a laptop, so it’s a poor excuse.
7. Have they told you much too soon that they are ‘in love’ with you?
8. Do you just have a ‘gut feeling’ that this person is too good to be true and lying to you?
If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, then there’s a possibility you might have been Catfished.
In the next article we’ll talk about what you can do to ensure you aren’t one of the many people out there who are conned by a Catfish. Remember life is much too short to invest your time in someone who doesn’t deserve it and has not only conned you out of your time [and possibly money], but preyed on your vulnerable points by getting into your mind too.
** If you have any personal experience of being Catfished, please write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org