How Not to Get “Catfished”

The world of online dating offers plenty of wonderful opportunities to meet compatible people. However, it also leaves you vulnerable to the phenomenon of “catfishing.” The term (which comes from a remarkable 2010 documentary and a compelling MTV show) refers to individuals who create elaborate false identities, luring unsuspecting victims into fraudulent online relationships that sometimes last for years. It’s heartbreaking and alarming to think that the gorgeous guy or girl you’re talking to may be nothing more than mirage projected by someone unstable or sadistic, but don’t let that put you off online dating. Here’s what you need to know about how to avoid being catfished.

Monitor plausibility

Some people who catfish are using their false online identity to do something akin to living out their dream lives. As a result, it’s smart to look out for ridiculous life stories that just don’t seem realistic. Are you talking to a supermodel, a powerful member of government or an individual with a 100 page CV of personal tragedies? If so, strongly consider the possibility that you are being duped.

Look for evasive attitudes

Be very wary if you notice that someone is unwilling to provide more than just a few photos of themselves or is constantly evading any attempt to meet in person. Even if you are not being catfished, someone who tries to avoid a personal meeting will almost definitely have something else to hide (often a spouse).

Do your research

Search around to see if this person’s alleged identity seems legitimate. For example, you should be able to find a departmental profile of someone who claims to be a college professor. It’s also worth browsing through the images that come up when you enter the person’s name and location. While nothing is foolproof, it is particularly useful if your contact will happily connect with you using Facebook or another social networking site where you can see them regularly interact with a large number of people who appear to verify their story.

Ask for proof

Given the increasing awareness of catfishing, you should be able to ask people on online dating sites to prove their identity without hurting their feelings. You can explain that you’ve heard bizarre stories and are very cautious about getting to know people without some sort of objective evidence of honesty. For example, it might be a good idea to ask the person to send a photo in which they hold up a piece of paper stating their name and the current date. If you don’t want to be explicit about your need for proof, simply ask for a Skype session with audio and video. While this can only verify their true appearance, it does help to weed out some catfish.

Keep your emotional distance until you meet

Finally, hold off on divulging lots of deeply personal information that a particularly pernicious catfish might use against you or even use for identity theft. Where possible, try to reserve judgment until you meet the individual in person and are more capable of assessing their genuineness.

by Yaro Babiy

How Long Should I Wait Before Meeting My Online Date for the First Time?

There is no sense in communicating with someone endlessly, talking on the phone for hours and days, if you can just as easily do so in person to find out if you like each other.

Therefore, you should try to meet up with someone you’re interested in as soon as possible. In other words, within 2 weeks of striking up conversation.

This prevents several things.

Don’t Waste Your Time

First, it prevents you from wasting your time on someone with whom you have no chemistry. Let’s say you spend several days and even weeks texting, or otherwise communicating with each other, not in person.

Let’s say you finally meet, and – woops! – there’s no chemistry there for you. Talk about a let down! Here you’ve built up this person, thinking your first date would culminate in fireworks, because of how fun it was to chat back and forth.

Instead, he was a dud, and you realize now that you aren’t very much interested in communicating with him going forward. Next!

Who Is This Person, Anyway?

Another reason why communicating too much before a first date is bad is because you don’t really know with whom you’re communicating – is this person really who he says he is?

You may have heard of the term “catfish” lately. The definition of a catfish is someone who claims to be one thing online but is someone completely different in real life.

Examples of catfish are gay/questioning women posing as men, or gay/questioning men posing as women, attempting to attract someone of their same sex, but without being honest about their own gender or sexual orientation.

Some catfish are the gender they say they are, but are stealing other people’s social media photos, and passing them off as their own.

Other examples of catfish are foreign men in developing countries who sit at an internet cafe all day, pretending to be the kind of person someone is looking for, and somehow managing to swindle vulnerable people (often older folks) out of hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars, using emotional and romantic manipulation.

Hopefully, you never come across a catfish. But the best way to combat this trap is to ensure you meet your new potential love interest in person as soon as possible.

Beware Excuses

If you’ve tried more than once to meet up with your date, and the excuses seem to keep on coming, just give up. He or she is either a catfish, or just not that interested in starting a relationship.

You are free to move on!

Playing Safe On The Internet – Don’t Get Catfished

Catfishing has been in the news a lot lately. The reality is that dating on-line is a great way to initially meet someone but how do you know if they are real? There comes a point and it should be long before your on-line connection goes on for a year or 2 when you need to verify that who you are talking to is indeed who they say they are.

If you are using a dating website, they all have security to protect their users, it is there for a good reason. If someone asks you to go outside of the sites methods of contact, as in send me your phone number so we can text instead of spending money, odds are good they are scamming. What are they doing on the site if they can’t afford to spend a few dollars to pursue a relationship? In some cases the sites are free in which case there is no reason to go outside their contact system.

Don’t give out your phone number until you verify that someone is “real”.

The easiest way to weed out the lazy fishers is to ask for a video chat. Scammers can send you pictures but they can’t fake what they look like on an on-line video chat. Scammers will come up with all sorts of excuses on why they can’t video. I have done a lot of travelling in countries like Bolivia, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, in all of these countries there are internet cafes & they all have cameras on the computers, they are very cheap to use, less than $1.00 an hour. There are very few places in the world where someone would not be able to access a computer with a camera. If someone can contact you via the Internet and text they can do a video chat.

I am always amazed when I hear about people giving money to people they have never met. I don’t give money to my family members, no way I would give it to a stranger who’s only contact has been via the Internet. This is a total red flag! People can ask for money without really asking, you know the “My car broke down, wish I could afford to fix it, won’t be able to make my job interview next week”. Don’t fall for it, anyone who is legitimately looking for a relationship will not ask you for money or hint that you should give it to them. You don’t know this person, it is not your responsibility to take care of them. These people will make it sound like you are the only one who can “save” them to bring out the protector we all have in us, they know how to play people to get what they want.

If you have chatted with someone online and they are immediately complimenting you & telling you how crazy they are about you.. Things are off. The people who scam need to get you into the loop fast, time is money to them. No one who is looking for a real relationship will behave this way. They will want to get to know you and build a foundation before they decide if you are what they are looking for. Imagine if in the real world you went on 2 dates with someone and they started talking about marriage and sharing finances.. You would get a restraining order and put them in the stalker pile never to be seen again.

Keep in mind that scammers are very good at what they do. They can come up with a million excuses and with rose colored glasses firmly in place many people fall for them. Your safest bet is to trust no one until they prove to you that they are who they say they are. If someone cares about you and really wants to have a relationship with you they will understand why you are cautious and in fact your safety, comfort and welfare should be one of their main priorities.