Catfishing – Be aware of the signs, risks and how to handle the situation
A catfish is someone who creates a false personal profile on a social networking site for fraudulent or deceptive purposes. Today more couples meet online than they do in person. Our lives revolve around likes, tweets, new friend requests, following each other, etc. that are all done online.
There can be a variety of reasons why someone might become a catfish. A few may be they are bored or lonely, want revenge on a previous partner, cyberbullying or romance. In the instance of romance someone does not feel confident in who they are so they create a new persona and pretend to be someone else. If they start to like the new person they have met online this can lead to major trust issues once they reveal who they really are.. The more serious reasons catfishers get close to their targets can be as severe as fraud, blackmail and identity theft.
What are the risks?
The risks of being catfished are real. They can include, but are not limited to, public embarrassment, emotional damage, identity theft, blackmail, credit card theft, cyberbullying, fraud, child exploitation, extortion and physical harm.
What To Watch Out For:
- Be aware when using social media or online dating sites where it is possible to encounter a catfish. How would you know if this happened? Here are some potential signs to look for
- If they seem too good to be true, they probably are.
- Their profile looks new or incomplete. If their Facebook account does not have a lot of friends listed or they are not tagged in pictures, it could indicate that they are not a real person.
- They’re very attractive and their photos look like they were professionally taken.
- If they say that they care about you and they act like things are getting serious after only a short amount of time. Moving too fast can be a red flag that they are playing on your emotions.
- You have decided to be exclusive, regardless of never having met.
- They won’t Skype, use a webcam to talk with you, Facetime or they repeatedly cancel in-person meetings at the last minute. Avoiding talking to you face-to-face is a red flag.
- They travel often but can’t meet you.
- They ask you to send them money. They may even give you an excuse to send it to someone else on their behalf. Do not ever send anyone money that you have never met in real life and that you do not know. Chances are you are being scammed.
- You have caught them lying.
- They make over the top promises.
What Do I Do If I Have Been Catfished?
As with any relationship if you suspect that you have been catfished you have feelings of not being able to trust the other person. Getting answers is an important part of closure and moving forward. A Private Investigator can conduct a social media investigation, background checks, and if the person is identified conduct surveillance to find out the truth about the person if they are who they say they are.
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