Updated: Oct 10, 2020
What happens when someone you thought you knew and cared for ends up being a stranger? One of the dangers of socializing online is Catfishing, as predators will create fake identities and false profiles to trick their victims and exploit their trust.
Catfishing has become such a phenomenon that even MTV has created a TV show series that investigates the online relationships of victims seeking help to uncover the real identities of online loved ones. In addition, trending dating applications such as Tinder and Bumble, along with the Coronavirus pandemic pushing everyone into social distancing, quarantine, and working from home has increased the need of finding connections to a new virtual level.
Abusers will coerce victims by using other people’s pictures or stock photos and creating fake life stories to feel more relatable to the victim with the potential intention of starting a sexual relation and perpetrating online abuse. A catfisher will also use manipulative tactics to avoid disclosing their real identity and maintaining control of the relationship. Catfishing can impose a heavy emotional and mental toll on a victim, so here are a few tips on catching a catfish and preventing the abuse:
Inconsistent Conversations and Sketchy Attitudes
Someone who is genuinely invested in building a foundation of trust and communication for a relationship or friendship with you will provide real and sincere information about themselves. If you notice that they accidentally contradict themselves or their stories during your online conversations, that may be a sign that they are faking information to engage with you.
Facetime is your best friend! Video calls are a great way to virtually see your online friend or love interest. If the person makes excuses and avoids any platform that will allow you to see them, that is a warning sign that they may be a catfish.
Reverse Image Search
Google has a feature in which you can input an image into the search bar and find the online sites and accounts to which that image belongs to. If you reserve search images and notice that the picture your online love interest sent looks like a stock photo or belongs to someone else’s profile, that is a sign you are being catfished.
Apply In-Person Boundaries to Online Boundaries
You wouldn’t share personal or private information to a random stranger you just met on the street right? It’s the same principle online. The best practice is to keep your profiles private and interact with people you know and trust in real life on virtual platforms.
Remember to trust your instincts, not the profile.