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.

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!

How To Avoid Getting Catfished

Online dating has become increasingly popular within the last 10 years. There are all types of dating websites online for all types of people. Many people feel that the draw of going out and finding a good person with genuine intent of falling in love just isn’t the same anymore. It is said that online dating cuts having to make trips to the bar and club scene in half; making the losers out there easier to avoid. What’s even better is that you can do it right from the comfort of your own home in your PJ’s. There are thousands and thousands of people who sign up to do online dating every week. It doesn’t matter if it’s through Facebook, Twitter, or Match.com. Many feel that the chances of them meeting that special someone is going to be pretty high because everybody’s doing it. Now whether or not everyone gets the results that they’re looking for, remains to be seen in more ways than one. Enters Catfish. A “catfish” is a person who creates fake profiles online and pretends to be someone they are not by using someone else’s pictures and information. These “catfish” use dating and social media sites, usually with the intention of getting other people or a person to fall in love with them. It is one of the ugly sides of the online dating equation that is often leftout. MTV now has a docu-series dedicated to this unfortunate side of online dating.

By now, everyone in America knows about the heartbreaking and inspirational story of Notre Dame football star Manti Te’o and his dead girlfriend was a hoax. People have become attached to the story because they want to know whether or not he was in on the hoax. They are also wondering how could a superstar college football player get duped into falling in love with someone who didn’t exist in the first place?

Now anyone who has read my articles in the past, knows by now that I am totally against online dating. I find it to be a form of escapist entertainment that encourages people to withdraw from the reality that surrounds them. It’s lazy, passive, and the fact that you have to be tied to a computer to do it makes it even more disturbing. For those that enjoy the idea of finding happiness and love online, there are ways to avoid becoming a victim of Catfish and the tips below should help.

  • Schedule A Meeting – Facetime is the number one rule in any form of dating. Scheduling a face-to-face meeting should always be the first rule of thumb with online dating. It helps you to establish a form of trust, and you are able to communicate a lot better. If your online partner makes up excuses as to why they can’t meet. It is likely due to reasons they are ashamed, or something they don’t want you to see and find out about them. Move on!
  • Never Reveal Personal Information – While it’s tempting to share every detail of your life with a person you think you could be in love with, do not ever give anyone you meet online personal information about yourself. This is at least until you have met them face-to-face and have established some form of an offline relationship.
  • Background Checks – You do not need to be a member of law enforcement to do a virtual background check on a potential suitor. The online search engines work very well so never be afraid to use it. Upload their photo on tineye.com. This will allow you to see where on the Internet the photo has appeared. People who catfish often tend to use a photo they’ve swiped from the Facebook or Instagram page of someone else.
  • Watch for Language – There are a lot of scammers out there using online dating websites to lure people into sending them money. Many of those who commit these crimes are from West Africa and the former Soviet republics. If their command of the English language is fuzzy, but they are claiming to be a native citizen of your country, it should raise a a red flag. The person is likely up to no good.
  • Never Send Anyone Money!
  • Never Agree to Purchase Anything Online For Someone and Send it to Them!
  • Know Your Personnel – It’s one of my favorite sports terms used most often in the NBA. You should always be aware of the strengths and weaknesses of those around you; be it a teammate, co-worker, colleague, friend, and especially someone claiming to be in love with you. If a person’s emails, messenger chats, phone calls, etc. don’t seem to be following earlier conversations or contradict things that were already said, it is likely that your online lover is following a certain seductive script.

No one wants to think they could be taken advantage by an internet dating scam, and yet hundreds of thousands of people are every single year. There is nothing wrong with wanting to find love and happiness with someone. There are many people who have formed successful relationships after meeting online, however, Catfish scams are real. It’s better to be prepared and recognize when someone is trying to take advantage of you.