Catfishing in Social Media
The Internet has become an essential part of our lives. Though it offers many benefits, it is also a terrifying place. While the internet and social media made it easy for the people to connect and communicate even if they are thousands of miles away from each other, it also opens doors for fraud and deception.
Catfishing is a phenomenon in which people pretend to be someone else online to lure targets into a relationship. Catfish creates a fake profile using the photos and personal information of others.
These people aim to extract money or get personal details of victims and use it to blackmail them. They request for money and never want to meet up in person.
There are others who use their fake identity to meet up the victim in person, and this could be extremely dangerous.
The word ‘Catfish’ became popular when a documentary of the same name was released in 2010. The story of the documentary is that a man falls in love on Facebook with a woman and finds out that her identity was a lie. Since then people started using the term to describe people pretend to be others on social media.
Why People Catfish?
There are many reasons why people catfish. These can be to engage in romantic or sexual relationships with people on social media.
To obtain obscene photos or videos of their target and sell them to make money or to blackmail the victim for money. For stealing money from other, or for stalking and grooming minors.
Revenge appears to be one of the important reasons for people to decide to catfish others. Ditched lovers, ex-friends, enemies, etc. with time on hand might become catfishes.
The catfishing phenomenon can be observed all over the internet including the social media sites, dating sites, etc. These people make use of the information they know about the victims and try to impress them.
Some people use the virtual world to live the life of their dreams. They enjoy playing the roles they choose to and cannot play in the real world. They try making others believe that they are glamorous, successful or else that they are facing heart-wrenching tragedy.
They want to escape from the reality of their own lives as they are bored, bullied or have so many problems in their life.
Some others want to get money from others. They may be alone, act with a group. They try to form long relationships with the victims to continue to get cash.
They trick people to send those gifts or money. This is the most common scam observed on the internet. A lot of people for prey to these scammers.
Dangers of catfishing for person catfished
The person who got catfished becomes emotionally disturbed, and their self-esteem might be diminished. There will be embarrassment, monetary loss, time, and energy and resources loss into the relationship for a person who is fake or a person who never existed.
How to Avoid Getting Catfished?
It is possible to avoid getting catfished online. Tools such as Google Image Search helps in this. If you are speaking to someone online, do some Google search to get the information revealed about them. Find if the person is what he claims to be.
- Another way to find is to ask them to phone or webcam chat with you. Never go to a lonely place to meet someone who befriended you on the internet.
- Do not share personal information with anyone who you do not know. Check the social media accounts of the person.
- These usually have meager friend count. There will be no photos of themselves, friends or family members.
- Get suspicious when someone you do not know tries to contact you because such people usually have some motive for it. They try to cheat and fake the identity.
- If someone asks you for personal information such as parents info, license numbers or bank account numbers, do not give it to them.
- Some dating sites ask people to provide their information that may tie police or others back to them before they take membership in their sites.
- This helps filter the scammers to some extent. It is always advised to stick to higher quality sites.
- Do not ever send money to people that you do not know. Sometimes the situation might need that a professional is hired to verify the information.
- Scammers usually do not want anyone to identify them and so avoid showing their face.
- They prefer talking over the phone than to use video chat services. Suspect a person if his profile picture is social media looks old or is a stock image.
- Their profile looks incomplete, and there are very few numbers of friends on their list.
- Keep your privacy settings in place. Do not share personal information with anybody. Meet them only in public places. Do not give your phone numbers of house or office address.
- If the person refuses to come to video calls and is finding excuses to meet you up personally, be cautious, something sketch might be going on.
- Do not accept the request for sexy photos. If you are not comfortable talking to them or finding their demands strange, do not be afraid to say no.
The phenomenon of catfishing is not new and is seen since when the internet was introduced. Every internet users must ensure that they do not fall prey to these people. The launch of too many social media apps or sites is intended to fraud the users to retrieve their data that leads to drawing the money from their accounts.