“That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche

A catfish is a person who creates a fake or false online identity usually through social media platforms or dating sites with the intent of luring unsuspecting people into a romantic relationship, often to exploit them for money or goods. Catfishing is the term for the online dating scam perpetrated by a catfish by using this false identity to seduce strangers online. Could you be the victim of a catfish? Here are the signs.

1. They have no or very few followers or friends. The fewer friends and followers the person has, the more likely they are to be a scammer or catfish.

2. Their photos seem too good to be true. This includes situations where the person is extremely attractive, photos look professionally done or different photos seem to show similar looking but different people. A Google Image search can help you find the origins of suspicious photos.

3. They get too serious too quickly. What starts off as casual flirtation shifts within a matter of days or a couple of weeks into promises, saying “I love you”, moving into sexual discussion or over-the-top attention much sooner than would be natural and warranted.

4. They avoid meetings and Skype video chats. Catfish often agree to in-person meetings or Skype video chats and come up with excuse after excuse to cancel at the last minute.

5. Their stories are far-fetched or vague. Watch for stories that are extreme or outlandish for the average person, such as professional or semi-professional athletes, large wealth, life-threatening illnesses and so on. Also beware of the opposite side of the spectrum. A person who gives very little detail about themselves or their life and seems vague and evasive can also be a catfish.

6. They claim to be an old classmate or neighbor of yours. Many catfish “disarm” their targets by claiming to be an old classmate or neighbor of yours. Check with your other classmates and review yearbooks to look for this person. Ask family members about former neighbors.

7. They ask you for money. They might claim to have a serious illness, they might claim their car has broken down and they want to come see you, they may claim their internet is being disconnected. Whatever the reason, never send money to a dating prospect you met online or anyone else you do not know well in real life.

What should you do if you believe you are being catfished? Stop all communication with that person immediately. Save any incriminating chats or emails for your records and report them to the social media platform or dating site as a scammer. Make sure you block them from contacting you on all social media platforms, by phone and via the app or site where you met them to prevent them from continuing to scam you. If you are the victim of someone you believe is not who they claim to be and you need answers, Bulldog PI can help.