Catfishing is the act of pretending to be someone else online for nefarious purposes. Find out more about catfishing here. Now you know what catfishing and romance scams are, we’ll take you through exactly how to spot one.
1.) They'll claim to be head over heels for you in a short amount of time.
They’ll say they really care about you after just a few messages, and will try to insinuate things are getting more serious. However, if you ask to Skype or call them, they will likely decline, especially if they are the opposite sex to what they are claiming on their profile. Their excuse will be they don’t know what Skype is, they don’t have the money to call you, or they are having trouble acquiring the software.
2.) They'll say exactly what you want to hear
They will agree with you about everything, vehemently. Their career or personality will be too good to be true, someone with a lot of money who works away, someone who is a model and training to be a pediatric surgeon, as well as a philanthropist who runs marathons and volunteers to raise money for the needy in their spare time. In reality nobody is entirely that perfect, and their story just doesn’t seem plausible.
You’ve been approached by someone online, usually out of nowhere, who you have no mutual friends with, and seems to be well, maybe a little “out of your league” with their very glamorous or alluring profile picture. However if you look at their pictures and it’s just them on their own in different poses, no friends, relatives, pets or exes – it could be a warning sign it’s a fake profile.
They will want to get you to text or message away from official dating sites or apps. This is so if another user reports them for their deception and the profile disappears, you won’t be alerted to their sudden absence. It also seems as though it is a genuine attempt to get closer to you by asking for your mobile number. It likely isn’t, and if this person is genuine they won’t mind where they message you!
5.) Information Fishing
They’ll fish for information about you but will offer next to nothing about themselves. For example: they may want to know all about your mother, her maiden name, your date of birth, your hometown, your childhood pets – see where I’m going with this? Yes. Those are all likely security questions which need to be passed in order to reset your password for things like online banking, money transfer accounts, and PayPal etc. Should you divulge this information in such a one-sided conversation you’re putting yourself at risk. Try to coax more information out of them, get them to talk about their life, job, family and interests. If they avoid this sort of talk and want to focus just on you, it’s likely a catfish.
A few typos and spots of poor grammar are acceptable, especially if your language isn’t their first language. The catfish will typically communicate so poorly that it’s hard to figure out what they’re trying to say, and any questions they don’t wish to answer will be clouded under the guise of poor language. Their bio (a short snippet of their interests and hobbies) will always be so broad that it could apply to anyone, and it will be wholesome and innocent sounding to attract the right kind of person. Things like reading, seeing friends, wanting to be part of a family.
7.) Asking for money.
Lending a friend a fiver is not the same as wiring £500 to a stranger on the internet you met two days ago. They will likely invent a sob story, or tell you about a past trauma. It may start as little things, they’re stuck somewhere and need cash ASAP and only you can save them with a few hundred. But once they realise you’re caught hook, line and sinker they will up the ante to as much as they can get! Avoid this at all costs as this is the catfish's ultimate goal, to turn you into a beguiled money machine.
So how can I know for sure I’m being Catfished!?
Use your common sense, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. If you’re still unsure and want definite proof – Send them a HooYu request.
We’ll need an email or a mobile telephone number for the person you want to check, along with their real name to send the request to, for them to fill out (you don’t need to do anything except wait for the results.)
Then they will need to take a live picture of their face as well as uploading an official government document, and sign in to their online profiles. We can tell straight away if a document is fake, or that their name doesn’t match against their documents or digital footprint, and be able to give you a result - within minutes!
Watch the short video below to see how HooYu can spot a scammer for you: