Online dating has become hugely popular in recent years. When the COVID-19 pandemic threw us all a curveball, dating had to evolve along with it, and online dating became the go-to solution to meet new people and form relationships. Even if you couldn’t go on an actual date, for now, the “virtual” dates have to suffice.
How do you really know who you are communicating with? Is it possible that your online date is catfishing you?
What is Catfishing?
Catfishing is a term used to describe someone who fakes their profile online and pretends to be someone else either for attention-getting or fraud. These catfishers may form short or long-term relationships with people and the entire time lie about their true identity. Some sexual predators use catfishing to lure underage victims. Catfishers can be male or female. It makes no difference.
Catfishers complete the perfect picture by finding online images of attractive people and using those to represent themselves. They may make up an impressive background story with credentials, a great job, and enviable accolades to their name to trick unsuspecting victims.
Catfishing can happen on any type of platform, including social media, but it’s most dangerous when perpetrated on dating websites for the express purpose of finding victims to steal from or humiliate them.
Signs That You are Being Catfished
There is nothing wrong with online dating as long as you are safe and take certain precautions. You can get to know someone pretty well by taking your time and talking online, emailing, texting, and sharing pictures. Just be careful you are actually communicating with who you think you are.
There are some staggering statistics of how often lonely women are catfished and end up losing their life savings. To protect yourself, so you aren’t one of them, watch out for these red flags.
1. No Audio or Video Calls or In-Person Meetings
One of the biggest red flags that you may be involved with a catfisher is that your online connection is very sketchy when it comes to scheduling audio or video calls and avoids in-person meetings. If the imposter is from another country, he or she may not want you to hear their real voice or accent. They would also stay away from video so you could not identify them or see who they are. After a few online emails or texts, most people would want to take things to the next level and either hear or see the real you. If your beloved doesn’t, perhaps it’s time to hang them out to dry.
2. No Candid Selfies
If all their pictures are stock images or they only post one or two and never provide any additional candid images, that could also be a tip-off. When someone posts on social media or shares pictures in online dating, they typically showcase a few with various poses and backgrounds. You can tell which ones are real photos in real situations. Look closely at your connection’s pictures to evaluate if you think they are real or not.
3. Profile is Too Good to Be True
Often catfishers spend a lot of time crafting very convincing and impressive profiles. If the write-up sounds like it’s out of a romance novel and the guy or girl couldn’t be any more perfect, give it a second glance. People are rarely that on point; it could be faked.
4. Professes Love too Quickly
If the romance proceeds at a blazing fast pace and your special someone starts to profess deep love quickly without even having seen you or met you in person, you definitely could be the victim of a scam. Often catfishers try to build trust quickly by pretending to fall head over heels, then they go in for the kill and ask for money.
5. Poor Grammar and Spelling or European Spelling
Poor grammar and European spelling of common words could also indicate that your date is from overseas. There have been reports of male scammer groups in South Africa, where a bunch of them sit in a room chatting with U.S. women online for the express purpose of scamming them out of thousands.
6. They Ask for Money
It doesn’t matter why they say they need it, there are plenty of common excuses, but if your date asks you for any type of loan or any amount of money for any reason, you are most likely being catfished, walk away. It’s common for them to ask you to wire the money or pay with prepaid gift cards. Let this also be a red flag; it’s a scam!
Before putting your heart on the line:
Do your homework.
Do a full background check on the person using a tool like InfoTracer.
Use a reverse image tool (Google) and find out exactly who you are talking to.