What is Catfishing? The Danger, Effects and Solutions.

Catfishing is creating a fake identity to interact with someone for a particular reason, more often than not to “attract” them into some sort of......

Today, we will discuss a crucial issue that is rampant in our society and has existed since the internet. It’s called Catfishing (pretending to be someone else online).

What Is Catfishing?

Catfishing is creating a fake identity to interact with someone for a particular reason, more often than not to “attract” them into some sort of relationship, including mild flirting that can last for a years-long relationship. How to identify a catfish? They will never meet you in person.

In early 2021, a report showed $1.3 billion was lost to dating frauds from 2016 to 2021, all due to catfishing—more than any FTC fraud category.

It’s relatively easy to hide behind a smartphone and pretend to be someone else, and this is why many of these scammers venture into this particular category. But that’s not to say they don’t put a lot of planning and manipulations to ensure you become a target.

From finding the perfect photos for profiles and feeds to opening emails for fake social media accounts(Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, or other datings sites) and purchasing premium VPN to ensure their location matches with their profiles, and not even forgetting to buy local phone numbers to open a WhatsApp account(if their actual location differs from one of the people they are pretending to be). The extent they go to convince their victims is mind-boggling, and I feel it’s time we start spreading more awareness about this to reduce the number of people who fall prey. So if you are reading this, don’t forget to share it with your friends; you just might be saving someone from falling into the hands of scammers.

How does Catfishing work?

I understand a lot will wonder how someone would believe a catfish and engage in an internet-only relationship. But, most often than not, the victims fall prey due to loneliness, covetousness, desire, friendship, and more. Also, these guys are smart enough to specifically target people with any of those vulnerabilities(Known through either the information you put out on your social media or through someone close).

It doesn’t mean the victim is at fault; it only indicates that most cyberattacks are due to human vulnerabilities and lack of accurate information, as the catfish tends to use flattery and emotional manipulations to kickstart a connection and nurdle it steadily.

When you request to meet or have a video call with them, they will undoubtedly give excuses for why they can’t. Most of these excuses include;

  • “My phone camera is broken.”
  • “Not in the mood.”
  • “I’m Shy.”
  • “The internet is bad.”

When it comes to romantic relationships with a catfish, most victims, after hearing several excuses proceed to request a selfie holding a paper with their names on it and the date. Yet, the catfish finds their way around it by editing the picture, and it will look so real that the victim won’t notice the edits.

Many of these excuses can happen with real-life friends. Still, when it comes to strangers, and it happens every time communication is attempted, you should be worried about something questionable.

Why People Catfish?

There are various reasons anyone would seek after a fake relationship, ranging from boredom to destructive hidden motives.

  • Fraud: Most Catfishes are mainly to extort money from victims, whether through fabricated sob stories, extortion, or other deceptive means.
  • Retaliation: Ex romantic spouses may turn to catfish to get back at their ex. Here, the catfish gets pleasure understanding that their ex is becoming invested emotionally in a fake relationship, which will inevitably either fall flat or get exposed.
  • Pranks: As sad as it is, Catfishing can occur due to being bored and desiring engagement. It may likewise be a significantly targeted form of cyberbullying between youngsters, especially as a way to pick on more petite social teens and tweens.
  • Lack of Confidence: Some individuals may lack the boldness to interact with people as their authentic selves. By concocting more appealing versions of themselves with fake pictures, they can live out their romantic fantasies.
  • Grooming: Grooming is when a grown-up catfishes a child for eventual abuse. However, it’s a crime whether the predator pretends to be a child or not.

Cues To Look Out For?

  • Infrequently Shares Personal Info: It’s no shock that they often leave a detectable loophole because building all aspects of someone’s life from scratch demands much work. So they tend to miss out on some little things like sharing personal information about their life.
  • Only text chats: As stated earlier, a catfish can never expose their real identity, so live video chatting or meeting in person is impossible. They’ll invest lots of energy into text messaging and chatting to make up for this.
  • Few pictures: Most catfish rarely post too many images of whom they pretend to be. So always look for updated photos about a recent visit to places(which isn’t much of an option for a catfish).
  • Requesting for or giving you things: Fraud-oriented catfish will be looking out for monetary gains, starting with small favors or gifts, which may proceed to online gift cards, Venmo requests, cash app, or even requesting access to your debit/credit cards as well as SSN.
  • A new Account: Having a believable feed on Facebook or Instagram is a bit like your credit record — the further back it goes, the better it is. When a catfish creates a new persona online, they start from scratch. They’ll often put “new account” in their profile to explain their lack of posts. Also, be aware that some buy old Facebook accounts too.
  • No online friends: Getting people to follow a fake profile can be challenging, but it’s not impossible. However, what is hard is having a specific group of friends to comment, like, and tag you continually on these apps. A visible lack of constant interaction from peers (particularly for young people) is a rather big red flag. However, keep in mind that a catfish could have fake, extra “friend” accounts they use to make their posts more realistic.

The best we can do is to help you be in the know about things like this to protect yourself online, and we will keep doing just that to ensure you don’t fall victim to cyber attackers.

Do your bit by spreading this information too.

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Categories: : Blog, Cyber basics, cybersecurity