It can be difficult to spot a catfisher. While the signs you might receive on a practical level may be different for each situation, let’s try to provide you with some helpful elements.
Below are the most common signs to identify a catfisher:
- Signal #1: no friends or followers and recent profile
If you meet someone on a dating site or on social media, check their Facebook profile right away.
Most scam artists have fake profiles that are designed to look real. It can be difficult to spot a fake one unless you know what you’re looking for. Check their list of friends first. If they have less than 10 friends, this is a major red flag that could indicate that it’s just a front profile ( although this rule doesn’t hold as much value now since there are systems in place to acquire friends in a snap and look authoritative right away ). Instead, check when they created their profile. If their internet presence started only a few days before your meeting, you should probably be seriously suspicious of their motives.
- Signal #2: The catfisher avoids Skype p the video call ( unless it’s sexual extortion )
If you feel like he’s dodging you with every request to see you, you should start considering the possibility that it’s not real.
A catfisher will do everything he can to avoid a face-to-face meeting because it may be easy to spot his lies.
In the case of sexual extortion, however, the opposite happens; it is the catfisher who immediately invites you to a video call in which he will play a pre-recorded video. For this approach “straight to the point” the first thing to think is that no serious person will ask you to undress immediately and still ask the catfisher, before continuing, to do simple things on screen, such as raising a hand, send you a kiss …. if it is a fraud being in front of a video already ready will not be possible …
- Signal No. 3: Their photo is too good to be true
You couldn’t believe your luck when you logged onto your dating app and saw this super-handsome or supermodel spinning you, but now you’re getting suspicious. After all, there’s definitely something “too good to be true” about it. If the online profile is exceptionally beautiful, it’s possible that the real person behind the account is stealing photos from a modeling website. Also, be cautious with extremely professional photos or images that look like glamorous pictures; a real person will usually use a profile photo taken by a friend on their smartphone, not a professional portrait complete with airbrushing.
- Signal #4: They claim you’re neighbors but don’t want to meet you
Another commonplace is pretending that the two of you are neighbors. You might get a pop-up chat or email that says “here’s + name of person + lives a few miles away from you” or a more specific, targeted message that says something like “I think we went to high school together + name of town + remember me?” It’s not uncommon to respond, thinking you’re keeping up with an old classmate or neighbor. But when you get to talking, you quickly discover that they seem to have no idea what our neighborhood is like and that there are no mutual friends or acquaintances. This is a classic sign that they are faking the shared geographic connection to make you feel more comfortable with them. For obvious reasons also, catfishers will never want to meet up with their victim.
To avoid this, some catfishers will agree to meet with you (to seem more authentic) but only to back out at the last minute.
- Signal #5: They come to propose engagements or marriages too quickly.
Maybe you meet someone on an online dating site and you think the two of you have liked each other, and in a few days or weeks, your casual flirtation has become very serious, too quickly. You haven’t seen each other yet maybe for dinner, but your new online friend or friend sends you fairy tale declarations of love or passionate love letters or marriage proposals. Be very, very cautious in these cases. People who write “I love you” after two weeks of chatting should not be trusted. They are actually trying to make a romantic connection as quickly as possible and then manipulate you into giving them money or some other advantage.
On the other hand, you have to be particularly idiotic to believe in lightning strike like in fairy tales (always written by men).
- Signal #6: They always seem to need help.
If you establish a relationship with someone online, be very cautious with requests for money. It’s one thing to lend money to a trusted friend, but it’s completely another thing to send it to someone you’ve just met, especially if they keep asking and trying to convince you. A catfisher will always have great excuses lined up: “My car broke down.” “I can’t afford my internet bill to talk to you.” “I have a life-threatening illness.” “I need the money to come see you.” They will try to manipulate you and generate ongoing guilt in you if you don’t help them with your money right away.
And clearly they almost always use paypal, cryptocurrency or other hard-to-trace means of payment… this should ring more than a few alarm bells.
- Signal #7: Their stories seem far-fetched or too vague, and they never provide you with a picture with the details of what they’re saying
If you’re talking to someone online or via phone, listen carefully to what they say or write. A catfisher will often try to get his victim to talk more about him and avoid too much attention, so ask specific questions and let him do the talking. Pay attention to answers that seem extremely outlandish - “I’m a doctor who works with Doctors Without Borders,” “I’m a pilot or military man on a mission” - or unusually vague - “I just like to party, enjoy life and have fun with friends.” In these cases have them elaborate to see if they change their answers or become evasive. They also never provide you with photos requested to describe what they are telling you - If the catfishing victim requests a photo of the angler describing one of their stories they will always find excuses not to provide it.