How To Spot an Online Dating Fraudster (Catfish)

I must admit I hadn’t heard of the term Online Dating ‘Catfish’ until I started to research modern methods of dating to offer women advice on the new rules of 21st century dating and relationships.

If you’ve never heard of a Catfish either then let me put you in the picture… and this is VERY important if you’re searching for love through online dating sites, or considering joining one.

Now, I don’t want to scare the living daylights out of you but I think it’s my duty as an educator and a coach to make you aware of these rotten, dishonest fraudsters so you can be on the look out. Forewarned is forearmed, right?

The majority of these predators are based in Africa, mainly in Nigeria and Ghana. But when they create profiles on online dating sites and social media sites they look like white Western-looking guys just looking for love.

They often go hunting around the Net and steal other people’s photos from their social media sites and invent a great profile and story that pulls their victims in.

They are VERY CLEVER and know the power of the emotional energy people put into online dating – sadly sometimes the rational part of the users brain is somehow overruled by the need to be loved, and this is where the vulnerability takes place.

Here are a few tips to help you spot the Catfish right away

Their photo seems too good to be true – almost like a model. Let’s face it, if they were that good looking would they need to be looking for love online?

One very clever way to catch them out is to do a search on the website TinEye to check and see if the photo has been uploaded somewhere else online. If the photo shows up in other places then they are not genuine

No photos on their profile – on some of the online dating sites you can’t register until you upload a photo – but on some you can. No photo usually means they have something so hide, so be warned.

They have a perfect life as a pilot, brain surgeon or industrialist – again use your common sense – would they be looking for love online? Maybe, but just be on your guard until you know more about them.

False social media accounts with very few friends or followers. Catfish are being very clever and set up false social media accounts so you think you’re actually checking out a genuine person – but the whole thing is a SCAM, especially if they have very few friends on Facebook.

Be especially wary if they try to get you off the dating site to communicate with you by email or phone.

Most of these fraudsters will invent a hard luck story to pull at your heart strings for example, a relative needs urgent medical treatment, or they’ve had a car accident – then they ask you to give them money to help them out.

Asking you for money – you should NEVER part with any money and if you have any suspicions then contact the National Crime Agency or the equivalent authority in your part of the world.

Don’t be drawn into their hard luck stories – they are playing on your emotional state of mind. Also pay attention if they never use your name and also call you ‘Darling’ or ‘Baby’, this is a sure sign they are also contacting other women with the same story.

By always addressing you by a pet name they’re making sure they don’t get mixed up, calling you by the wrong name could alert you something was amiss.

They are especially good at targeting the very vulnerable by looking for clues in their online dating profiles. Are you coming across as too desperate in your profile? Unfortunately, some women tend to pour out their heart felt pleas when looking for their soul-mate online.

You just have to take a look at some of your friends Facebook updates to get what I mean, right?If you think you’re coming across as a bit vulnerable then ask a friend to take a look at your online dating profile and make sure you are not sending out the wrong messages.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this rather long article, I don’t want to worry you unnecessary about online dating and I do want you to have fun… but just look out for these ‘red flags’ of the Catfish and enjoy the adventure!

Simple Tips to Get You Through Online Dating

I think that the pros of online dating is as I have experienced them include the fact that you can scroll through the people that you want and do not want. Although people lie, it takes some of the guess work out of things about them. If you have a list of what type of man you want, you can quickly eliminate people based off of the answers to some of their questions. For example, if you want someone who has a college education, who is a Christian, who has a decent job, then you can rule out the profiles that say they are non-religious and unemployed. If they are proud of themselves and what they do, then more than likely they are going to be open and list these things.

I can recall one man that I meant online. He wanted me to give him my number. Upon viewing his profile I found that many things were blank, his education, employment, kids, I mean almost everything. What is the big secret? So I kindly asked him what he did for a living. He actively avoided my question several times. I decided to ask him one more time and he told me I was either going to give him my number or I wasn’t. I chose not to. At the end of the day what is the big secret that you cannot tell me where you work, what you do, or what type of field you are in. What are you a drug dealer? This is not like I am asking you classified information. So be wary of people that do not want to tell you anything about themselves. They could either be married or losers, perhaps even a combination of both. What is the point of creating an online profile if everything on it is blank?

Also be wary of people who do not have a picture. If you are on a site looking for love, then a person should not want to be super secretive. How are you going to expect anyone to want to talk to you if you do not have a picture? Most, if not all dating sites you cannot search other members unless you are a member yourself. So they cannot say they are afraid of who will see them. The same person that is seeing them is a member them self. If they do not want to put a picture up, I fear that are hiding something, mainly their wife or girlfriend who they don’t want to find out that they are on the site.

If you asked them to send you a picture and you do not like what you see, then what? Is it this awkward moment where you are just not going to respond back. I just feel like people who do not put a picture have something to hide. In this day and age people put their picture on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, so what is the big deal about putting it on a dating site. Also be wary of people who only put one picture. They should have several. If you have ever watched the show Catfish, then you know how people can pretend to be other people online. A quick way to ensure that they are the right person is to see multiple pictures of them in different settings. To make sure that it is them.

The last advice that I can give to you in regards to online dating. Is to try paid over free. It is my opinion and experience that if it is a paid site you can have more success and know people are more serious. Why else would they waste their money. I think that you will have more luck on the paid sites and know that they are more prepared for love.

Some Reasons People Become Catfish

There can be all sorts of reasons why people become Catfish online [create fake profiles], but two I’ve read of this week are: one woman who did it to fool her employers and a man who did it to kill his girlfriend, by posing as an online stalker before he killed her.

One woman did it to humiliate her boyfriend and one man created 130 fake Facebook accounts to harass his sixteen year old girl friend. See link at end of article. **

While to many it can seem pretty harmless creating fake profiles and becoming a ‘Catfish’, and of course it can be just someone with low self esteem trying to live out a fantasy life online, to the victims it can cause pain and upset, even death in rare cases.

Other reasons I’ve heard of why people become Catfish is to check up on their partners or previous partners, to try to lure them to see if they take the bait or just to nose around on their Facebook page as someone else, if the person has blocked them. Sometimes they do it to appear anonymous on Facebook so that people they know won’t recognise them.

It’s a minefield as there are estimated to be around 83 million fake Facebook accounts. The best thing you can do as a social network user is to protect yourself by looking for the signs that someone is a fake. If you answer YES to any of these questions about your Facebook friend, then it should hold up a red flag:

1. Does your FB friend’s profile picture look too good to be true? Quite often they look like models or celebrities or just extremely attractive.

2. Do they have few photographs and none taken with friends and/or family?

3. Is there no tagging of photographs by themselves or friends?

4. Does the information they say about themselves sound too good to be true? For example, they are in the modelling business, a fashion designer, etc.

5. Do they have only a few friends listed on their page?

6. Are there few posts on their wall and lack of comments by friends?

7. Do you just ‘have a feeling’ that somehow they are too good to be true?

8. Are they always making excuses why you can’t see them on webcam or get to meet them?

9. Have you been asked for money by the suspect Catfish? If so, it could be a Nigerian Scammer behind that profile pic or some other con artist.

10. Has this person declared undying love or got keen far too soon? Another red flag.

Protect yourself by:

1. Dragging and dropping their ‘perfect image’ into Google image search, it might throw up photographs of that image elsewhere online and you might find they are posing as someone else to others.

2. If you are arranging to meet up, ensure you talk to them on webcam first so you can see they are the person in the photograph, or failing that, get them to take a photograph of themselves holding up that day’s newspaper clearly showing the date or a card with your name on it. Of course, if they are the person they say they are, it still doesn’t mean they’re not trying to con you in some way!

3. Google their full name. If they are supposed to be a successful model, designer or other, their name should show up somewhere online, if it doesn’t, see it as a probable red flag.

4. You can also contact a couple of their Facebook friends to ask what they know about the person, although you may need to be careful how you set about doing this. Chances are they might not know them either or it could be the suspected Catfish has other profiles they’ve added as friends.

5. Often if a person is a Catfish they will keep making excuses why they can’t send you a photograph, appear on webcam or keep breaking potential dates and they often have elaborate excuses, such as they were involved in a car accident, their parent was suddenly taken ill, so see anything like that as a potential red flag.

6. There are various websites where you can discover a person’s location from their email address or email header info. Here’s one:

http://www.ip2location.com/free/email-tracer

7. It’s possible to waste a lot of time with a Catfish online as they keep dangling that proverbial carrot, so give yourself a time limit and think if so and so hasn’t proved him or herself by such and such a date, they’re not worth bothering with. With today’s technology it’s not that difficult or expensive for someone to get a webcam or send a photograph to show they are the person on their profile pic. If they can’t do that, it’s the biggest red flag of all!

Remember, if something sounds too good to be true, then it probably is!

** Article link: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504083_162-20123755-504083/calif-man-creates-130-fake-facebook-profiles-to-harass-ex-girlfriend-pleads-no-contest/