Many people spend countless hours online, often chatting with strangers. If you’re one of them and you like using Tinder, Omegle, or social media to meet new people, know that you’re in danger of being catfished.
Unfortunately, romance scams increased by 40% in 2020 following the COVID-19 outbreak. Not even Facebook is safe, as the latest report from the platform suggests 1.3 billion fake accounts were taken down in the last six months.
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Why Do People Catfish or are Being Catfished?
There are multiple reasons people will catfish others. Many are just insecure and suffer from depression or anxiety, and meeting others is difficult. Those people may also have low self-esteem, making interaction with new people even harder.
On the other hand, some will catfish because they want revenge or need to harass and hurt their victim. Additionally, some catfish hide their identity since they plan on scamming others.
This shows that catfishing is often far from a prank. Here’s how to know if it’s happening to you.
The Person Constantly Refuses Video Chat
Once the messaging moves on to something bigger, chances are you’ll want to see the person you’re chatting with. Even though you might have exchanged some photos, it’s normal that you want to see the person in real-time and have a video chat.
However, if a person you’re chatting with refuses to do so, something might not be right. Naturally, some people are shy, but that still shouldn’t prevent them from seeing you for at least a second. Additionally, if your new friend accepts a video call but remains in the dark or you can’t clearly see their face, note that you’re probably catfished.
They Can’t Meet Up
Ideally, you’ll eventually want to meet the person you’ve been talking to online. A live date could strengthen your relationship and help you get to know the person better. Seeing someone offline will also make you decide whether that person meets your expectations.
Pay attention to how your online friend behaves once you mention meeting up. If they find an excuse or quickly accept, only to change their mind later, something is not right. They might go as far as saying they’ve been in a car accident just to get your sympathy and avoid meeting up with you.
Your Real-Life Friends Have Doubts
Sometimes when you get too involved with a person, the only voice of reason could be your friends. They probably know all about the person you’re chatting with and have likely helped you find out more about them.
Still, if your friends become suspicious about that person, make sure you talk to them to find out why they think what they do. Sometimes they’ll notice things you’ll subconsciously ignore and help open your eyes to the truth.
Your Online Friend Has No Online Presence
These days, people usually have a few social media accounts that they manage simultaneously. Think about looking up the person you’re chatting with on other networks. If they barely have any other accounts or their accounts are new with very few friends, they’re likely catfishing you.
Think about the job that your online friend has. If they claim to be successful, look up their LinkedIn account, or just be open and ask to follow them on another platform. However, if they avoid giving you the links, something is wrong.
They Use Only Professional Photos
Most people on social media upload selfies and personal photos with their friends and family. If you’re chatting with someone who only has professional photos on their account, chances are those photos don’t belong to them.
Some catfishers will also use other people’s photos you can easily check with reverse image search. Still, others will use professionally made images to make themselves look better and possibly lure you into some scam.
They Ask for Money
When someone asks you for money, and you haven’t even met in person, something is clearly wrong. Unfortunately, some people catfish to scam others, starting by evoking sympathy and then shamelessly asking for help.
The same goes if that person asks for your explicit photos or videos—chances are they only wanted to lure you into becoming something more than friends and then blackmail you for money. Never fall for these tricks, and if things become serious, don’t be afraid to report the person to the authorities.
Catfishing is more common than you think. Unfortunately, sometimes people catfish with serious intentions of hurting others. Pay attention to how your online friend behaves when you mention certain topics and save yourself form Being Catfished.
If they don’t want to live chat or make excuses to avoid meeting in real life, chances are they’re actually someone else. If your friends are suspicious about the whole thing, don’t ignore them.
In addition, if the person you’re chatting with asks you for money, stop all contact immediately as this is the biggest red flag of all.