How to know if you are catfishing

With online dating becoming the new norm, catfishing is becoming a growing concern.

As far as the Internet is concerned, a “catfish” is an individual who creates a fake profile use someone else’s photos and/or false information to trick someone into falling in love with them.

With the recent success of shocking docuseries The Tinder scammer – where scammer Shimon Hayut met women on Tinder before scamming them out of millions of dollars after claiming to be Simon Leviev, a son of Israeli diamond tycoon Lev Leviev – the fear of being exploited online is at his highest level.

As we navigate a socially distant world, where meeting someone on an app or website is a safe alternative amid the ongoing pandemic, we need to be extremely careful in order to protect ourselves from predators.

If you think someone you’re talking to online isn’t who they say they are, chances are you’ve been the victim of catfishing.

It’s important to know the warning signs and what to look out for to save yourself the heartache and shame of falling prey to a catfish. Below are nine red flags to watch out for:

They refuse video chat

When you’re talking to someone on an app or website, you may not want to video chat right away (FaceTime, Zoom, or Skype), but if it’s been over a month and they’re still refusing to chat. ‘appear on video, it’s probably because of concern.

They don’t have a lot of social media followers

Having no social media is fine, but if someone has an Instagram account and yet has very few followers (say less than 50), minimal photos, and little interaction with friends, they there is a high probability that the account is fake.

They only have a few pictures

Even the most shy or less photogenic people usually have a decent selection of photos with family and friends, or even selfies. If someone claims they have no more than three photos, the hair on the back of your neck should immediately stand up.

The only photos they have look professional

Even if you’re dating a model, not all of the photos they have were taken by a professional photographer. A person usually has countless less than perfect selfies in their phone and should be willing to share them as well. A quick hack: try a reverse image search by dragging the person’s photo into Google Images to see if it appears elsewhere on the internet, like a stock image.

They constantly cancel at the last minute on the scheduled dates

Last minute things happen and canceling a date is normal, but if a potential suitor cancels more than two dates in a row, you could be dealing with a catfish – or just a snowflake, which is just as terrible.

They love to bomb you

If the person you just met online is telling you that they love you or are already planning your wedding after just a week or two, that’s a good sign you’ve been cheated. We all crave attention, and scammers use this tactic to lure you in by telling you what they know you want to hear.

They ask you personal questions but refuse to give you insight into their own lives

Asking questions is necessary to get to know someone, but the first questions should stay on the surface. If someone asks you for extremely personal information, such as your social security number, address, names of family members, or sensitive job information, run as fast as you can.

They ask you for money

Never give someone you just met – especially if you’ve never met them IRL – a penny. It’s a surefire way to know you’re being targeted by a catfish.

Something is wrong

Trust your intuition. If something about your potential online suitor isn’t right for you, it probably is. Prevention is better than cure.

Some basic rules to follow if you go online dating are to always meet in a public place; never send money to someone you met online; and don’t let them drive you home right away, finding out where you live.

If something goes wrong, block that person immediately and don’t be afraid to report them if you think they’re a scammer.

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