10 Signs You’re Being Catfished Online
Linda Collins - October 15, 2021
Catfishing is the term used to describe people who intentionally misrepresent themselves online to bait someone into a false relationship. Unfortunately, this romantic deception is quite common these days. In fact, evidence from a recent study that sampled 917 women found that 23 percent admitted to having catfished someone. This same study also looked at a sample of 190 men, and 38 percent of this sample confessed to having perpetrated a catfishing scenario.
The goal of catfishing is duplicity. A person is duped into believing that they are in a relationship with a person they believe is real but who is actually completely fictional. In extreme cases, the catfisher will use their false relationship to persuade the person to give them money. While not all catfishing situations involve a financial scam, but when it does, the catfisher manages to persuade an individual to believe they are in a legitimate relationship to such a degree that they willingly send money.
Regardless of whether a catfishing scam involves monetary fraud, the psychological consequences can be dire. This is evidenced by research from SugarCookie, which states that approximately 35% of catfishing victims experience significant psychological consequences. Fortunately, there are things you can do to keep yourself from falling for a catfishing scheme. For example, you might consider using a pre-relationship checklist to ensure that you really know the person before getting romantically involved. Alternatively, you can examine your online relationship for signs that things aren’t as they seem. Read on to learn the ten signs you need to keep an eye out for to avoid being catfished:
One of the most significant and telling signs that you’re being catfished is when the person you’re talking to online refuses to video chat with you. Of course, there could be legitimate reasons why they’re not immediately available to get in front of the camera. Still, if you’re talking with someone for several months and they won’t answer your Skype or FaceTime calls, then you should be suspicious.
A big sign that the person you’re talking to online isn’t who they say they are is that they refuse to speak with you over the phone. For example, a catfisher pretending to be someone of a different gender than they actually are, or a different age, will avoid voice calls at all costs. Furthermore, if the catfisher is someone you know, a voice call may also give them away. Therefore, you need to be wary when someone you’ve been communicating with for a while doesn’t want you to hear their voice.
In general, the end goal of meeting someone online is to meet up with them in person. However, if your romantic interest always has an excuse not to meet you, this is a red flag. Furthermore, if they often give reasons full of drama, this should also make you suspicious. Using dramatic reasons for not meeting up, such as an illness or car accident, is a common catfish tactic to distract you from the fact that you still haven’t met them in person.
Google’s Reverse Image Search is a useful tool for detecting catfish. This tool lets you take images that someone has sent you and run them through the Google search engine. You can then learn whether these images appear elsewhere on the internet. If, for example, they appear on a social media profile with someone else’s name, then it’s a pretty good indication you’re being catfished. Alternatively, you might find that the images they have sent you are commercial images or images cut and pasted from various sources. Again, this is a definite sign that someone is trying to fool you.
Catfishers want to appeal to as many people as possible so their social media profile will display broad interests. For example, they might say they like both opera and pro wrestling. Although it’s certainly possible for someone to like these two disparate things, it’s a bit unlikely, so you should definitely be cautious. Additionally, you should look for profiles that express solid opinions on things. Most people will indicate how they feel about certain things, whereas scammers will avoid expressing opinions to avoid turning anyone away. One way to know for sure is to ask questions about the things on their profile. However, make sure it’s a question that they can’t just Google the answer to. For example, you might ask them what got them interested in operas or how many pro-wrestling matches they have been to.
According to reports by the FTC, romance scams were responsible for a total of $304 million in losses in 2020. Most of these scams were some sort of catfishing scheme. Catfishing scams build on a person’s trust and play on their emotions to bilk unsuspecting people out of money. Therefore, if you’re talking to someone online, and you’ve never even met in person, and they ask you for money, block them immediately. They are likely trying to scam you. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been talking to them for months or how much you’ve shared, or the sob story they tell you; never give money to someone you don’t know. And be prepared for them to use every trick in the book to make you feel guilty. Catfishers have no shame when it comes to preying on people emotionally.
Most catfishers only have access to a limited number of false pictures of the person they’re pretending to be. Therefore, they will likely keep the same profile picture for many years. This is a big clue that someone isn’t who they say they are. In addition, most people will update their profile picture at least every few months and use something recent and flattering. Therefore, if a person has a grainy photograph or one that’s out of focus, it’s a sign that they might not be who they say they are. Furthermore, you should be especially wary if their profile picture doesn’t look recent. For instance, if they’re standing in front of the Twin Towers.
A lot of catfishers live overseas and, for convenience’s sake, will claim to have a job that takes them overseas. They will often say they have to travel to places like Africa or the Middle East. While there are jobs that require this type of travel, you should be cautious if this person starts asking for money as it’s very likely they’re trying to scam you.
Additionally, you should be wary of anyone who claims to have a job that seems unattainable for someone their age. For example, someone in their 20s rarely becomes a partner in a law firm.
A red flag that screams fraud is when a person’s profile contains grammar so poor it reminds you of a tech support scam. In other words, they speak as though English is their second language, even though they claim English as their native tongue. You should approach this person carefully and ask questions to legitimize whether they really do speak English as a first language. For instance, you should ask questions about where they grew up, what school they went to, what degree of education they’ve attained, etc.
In general, when talking to someone online, we’re going to make sure only to send them photos of us looking our best. However, there will likely come a time where we either feel comfortable enough or look good enough to send a selfie. If, however, your paramour never reciprocates the selfie, this is a reason to be suspicious.