‘Catfish’ is a term used to describe a stranger on the internet who tries to convince you that they’re someone else. It is tactic most often used in online dating to scam unsuspecting people, whether that’s for money, sexual pleasure or just for something to do. Police estimate that Aussies send around $8 million to internet scammers every month. It’s an awful experience that can lead not just to heartache but financial ruin. Online dating should be fun but because even the best of us can get it wrong, it pays to know the warning signs of a catfish. Watch out for these four things.
1. They seem perfect, too perfect
If this guy or girl seems too good to be true, they might be. Perhaps they say all the right things at the right time; compliment you on your photos, show interest then leave you hanging for days, or get too personal too quickly. Be wary, especially at the start, about the information you share with someone online. That’s not to say that you should suspect everyone, but you should test the waters (and their interest) carefully. Be wary of the photos they supply too. If they’re ‘too perfect’ or look different from one photo to the next, they could be sending fake photos. One way to test this is to reverse image search their photos by saving them to your Desktop, then dropping them into the Google Images search tool and verifying the person via a Facebook (or other) profile.
2. They don’t have any photos
Anyone who’s serious about online dating, whether that’s through an app like Tinder or a website such as eHarmony, will fill out their profile and have at least one photo. Catfish will go to great lengths to protect their identity and may avoid showing you their photos, even when you ask. One way they might skirt around this issue is by saying they will show you a photo if you show them more of yours. Whatever you do, don’t fall for this trap. Online dating is a mixture of trust and being firm, especially when your prospective date seems unwilling to be generous.
3. Likewise, their profile is sparse
You’ve taken the time to fill out your name, your interests and what you’re looking for in a partner, but when you visit their profile it lacks information, offers generic responses and is riddled with spelling and grammar errors. This is the sign of someone who isn’t serious about online dating – or who’s a catfish. That’s not to say you should write this person off but you can query them about the missing information and see how forthcoming they are with revealing things about themselves. Note: a catfish’s profile can look a bit too spic as well– that is, be filled out with responses that are too perfect. This is when crosschecking the person with their Facebook or LinkedIn profile can help.
4. There’s always some technical problem
Perhaps you waited days for a reply to your message then one pops up out of the blue with an apology that “FaceTime crashed”, “my phone was stolen” or “I’ve been so busy at work”. Even if you organise a time to meet or chat online, something always comes up that prevents them from following through. And they’ll have a good excuse, every time. If this seems to keep happening to you, chances are the person is not interested and is wasting your time. Know when someone is just playing with you or making you feel bad. At some point, it’s time to collect your things and move on to the next person.