Online love. It’s becoming more mainstream for people to find it.
In fact, the number of singles on dating sites grows each year. Indeed, many people find today’s dating apps easy to use and enjoy looking for love in privacy. However, there’s an ugly side to this new dating phenomenon. The catfish.
This is a person who hides behind a false identity to find a vulnerable person. Their motives run a gamut from boredom or curiosity to more nefarious intentions such as swindling new partners out of their hard-saved dollars. In the worst cases, they are looking for someone to physically harm.
This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t use dating apps. They can be perfect for meeting new friends or falling in love. However, it does mean that you should dip your toe into the pond with extreme caution and keep your eyes open for those catfish!
5 Red Flags that Your Online Love is a Catfish
Disclaimer: I use the pronouns he and she rather loosely. Any person can become a victim. And anyone can be a fraudster. Good and bad people come in either gender! Please focus on the gravity of the content and know that any human can fall prey to one of these people.
1 – Amazing Profile Pics
Does your love interest look too yummy for words? Do the photos appear to be professionally taken? Does his/her profile have a limited number of fabulous-looking posed images?
If you answered “yes” to any of those questions, take a keen look at these photos.
Think about your own social media and dating profiles. Your images are probably selfies, not professionally photographed. Most likely, your photos capture your beauty and your flaws. And, you probably have numerous photos of yourself.
One of the first ways a catfish tries to attract a new victim is by setting up a profile that’s sure to capture all kinds of attention. Oftentimes, they use stock images or raid modeling portfolios, load them into their profile, and wait for a victim to start to chat them up.
If you think that you’re love interest is using fake photos, drop the image into Google Image’s “Search by Photo” and review the results. They will tell you if the photo you are researching appears on any other websites. So, if you do see stock images or modeling portfolios as results, you’re likely being catfished.
2 – Few Friends or Social Media Followers
Because the catfish is not a real person, he usually has few friends or social media followers. This is because his real friends and family are connected to him at his legitimate profile, not the fake one.
They will usually try to explain it away when you question them about this. The most common excuse is that they just got a new computer or didn’t have reliable internet at their old house until recently or deleted their profile because of a privacy concern with an ex. That’s not to say these scenarios couldn’t happen. They can, and they do!
However, when you combine a low number of followers and friends with other signs of a scammer, the odor of your online love starts to smell very catfishy, indeed!
3 – Refuses to Video Chat
One way to confirm that you are talking to the person in the photo connected to the profile is to video chat. A real and sincere person will want to get to know you better and spend time on video chat. A catfish would rather dive to the muddy depths and refuses to video chat let alone meet in person.
Look out for excuses about the camera on their phone or computer being broken or their unstable internet connection preventing them from a video session with you. The chances are great that the person in those sexy profile pictures is not the person to whom you are pouring out your heart.
4 – Too Serious, Too Quick
Ok. So, maybe you’ve video chatted and verified photos and you are confident that you are speaking to the person in the photographs. No scam here, right?. Not so fast, my friend! Your online love might still be a fraud.
In fact, some scammers do appear as themselves in their nefarious plots. Their full intention might be eventually to meet you in person to take advantage of you financially or physically. Therefore, they don’t hide their identity.
You see, they are convincing and savvy. They know how to gain your trust. One thing you need to know is that scammers and catfish get too serious, too quick! Perhaps you’ve met online. It’s all fun and you enjoy the company. You’ve flirted a little. You’re getting to know him better, and all is going well. Then…BAM! He drops an “I love you,” but it seems way too early in the game.
Catfish love to drop “I love you” early in the game to gauge your response. If you tell them that you love them back, then they know they have set themselves up to begin their manipulative games. Proceed with extreme caution.
They Spin Unbelievable Stories
Catfish lure in unsuspecting victims by sharing stories about lives that are unbelievable. There are two types of catfish–the one who casts a spell over you with wonderful stories about fabulous lives and the one who gains your empathy with sob stories.
First, let’s look at the catfish who offers you a fairytale life. He does this in the hope that he will appear prosperous so they don’t raise suspicions. In addition, he creates a wonderful world that you won’t be able to resist. How does he use this story to take advantage of you?
He gets you to buy into his ideal world and invites you to join him. At some point, he will experience a downturn in his great fortune. He will make you feel like a total shit if you don’t agree to help him out of his distress. Gotcha!
Next up is the down-on-his-luck catfish. He will befriend you and be very sweet. Then he will gain your empathy–and maybe your sympathy–when he develops cancer, or is about to lose his home to foreclosure, or tells you a sad story about some other dreadful circumstance. He will start small and ask you for a little gas money until payday with the promise of a payback (which you’ll probably refuse). These small expenses will snowball. Finally, you’ll be footing the bill for his life if he succeeds in the con game.
Avoid Being the Victim of a Catfish
If you’ve been catfished, don’t feel bad. It happens to even the smartest and savviest and most successful women. We all want love. Catfish take advantage of that vulnerability that most of us women share. They are expert manipulators, and you did nothing wrong!
Catfish hate getting caught! If you suspect your online love is a catfish, break it off. Sever all ties and block them from contacting you. Further contact with the catfish opens you up to being “sweet-talked” again. He will make you doubt your own judgment and employ emotional warfare tactics to try to weasel his way back into your life. Refuse to continue to be a victim.
In fact, you will be doing his next victim a favor if you take it a step further and report the profile to the dating or social site for investigation.
Additionally, we ask that you use the sharing buttons at the bottom of this post to spread the word about how to spot a catfish!
The bottom line here, ladies and gentlemen, is to not send any money to any online love interests, under any circumstances. You worked hard for your money and a catfish is undeserving of even one penny.
So, use those dating apps to look for online love. But do so while keeping your eyes open to the telltale signs of catfish in the dating pond.