Profiles and dating back in the day…
Many years ago in the 1800s people would meet potential partners in their country or other countries via the existing mail/postal system. They would write letters describing the area they lived, a full description of their appearance, their accomplishments, their existing status (rich, unmarried, successful), and what they were seeking. Usually, the purpose was to find a mate. They would even include a “likeness”. A drawing or photo in today’s language.
The letters would be sent to churches, magazines, newspapers, or posted in a central location or be included in a catalog. The catalogs were usually named Mail Order Brides and included single men and women who were seeking a loving partner for marriage. There were no rules for what was written, the descriptions that were used, or the likeness. Participants relied on the honesty, ethics, and morals that guided life back then.
Letters were exchanged and at some point, in time a proposal to marry was offered, accepted, and off went the person to travel a great distance to meet the new spouse. For amusement, try to imagine two people wandering around a train station trying to find someone that appears the same as the likeness they are carrying in their hands. Not the same mental picture we have today of two people falling in love is it?
What you see is what you get?
Fast forward to today with the technology we have and apply that to dating sites and we are doing kind of the same thing. Catfishing could very well be hundreds of years old and is being used pretty much the same way and for similar reasons. And, just as back then it was not illegal as the old adage of “letting the buyer be aware” prevailed. Today it still isn’t illegal if it is being done for some of the reasons but it is illegal in some areas if it is being used to set up a scam. Trouble is we don’t know why the “Catfisher” is doing it until his/her mission has been completed.
So, what is Catfishing or phishing? A catfish scam occurs when someone creates a fake persona to trick another person into believing that they are that person online. Sometimes, the catfish will go to extremes to build and continue the fake persona and utilize all available means on social sites, dating sites, and other online forums. They might display fake photos, get a separate phone line, and create a complete online existence with fake friends to complete their ruse. They will go as far as their intentions dictate they need to go.
Different reasons motivate each of the people who catfish:
- A very common reason is the need to be liked. They may have low self-esteem or confidence issues, and building a greater persona enables them to develop online relationships they feel they might not be able to develop as their true self.
- Loneliness. Establishing online relationships reduces their loneliness and a greater than actual persona enables multiple relationships.
- Building a sensational persona helps create an emotional uplift as they “live” their new life online. They get a kick out of it.
- According to experts in this area most catfish are extroverts and they love communicating with other people and the embellished persona creates so much more opportunity for communication.
- Greed. The worse reason is that the catfish is setting up a scam and at the right time will begin trying to get your money.
- In a worse case, the catfish may be setting up the victim for physical violence such as sexual assault, or worse.
Catfish prey on all types of people. It’s not about being naïve, hopeful, socially inexperienced, desperate, lack of intelligence or caution or rational thinking. Anyone can be victimized. But it is possible to know the signs and keep your instincts honed. Following are some key signs that will help:
- They claim to have gone to a prestigious college and have a very highly respected degree and they are not working or working in a job far beneath their education level.
- If the photos are group photos or it is difficult to know who in the photo is the person you are communicating with.
- Refusal to talk on the phone or have a video chat and reveal that the appearance is far different than what shows in the photos.
- Refusal to meet.
- If everything seems to good to be true.
- A check on social media reveals no friends or followers.
- They try to establish some form of familiarity to help ease your concerns. Lived in your town, went to same school, traveled to same areas. Anything to get you to relax your guard.
- The become too serious too fast.
- Play on your emotions with a sad or hard-luck story to set up a subsequent request for money. Elaborate stories to play on your sympathy
- Their stories seem to unreal or not clear enough or consistent.
- No photos.
- Many victims report that the person said all the right things, they tapped into their deepest needs and said only positive things.
Trust your instincts. If something seems wrong then it probably is.
If you think you are being catfished what can you do?
Do a little background checking to confirm your suspicions. If you’re still not comfortable keep digging.
Use an online service to confirm the identity of the person you’re chatting with.
If you have determined you are communicating with a catfish immediately cease any communication.
Save any incriminating messages they sent you and block the profile.
Report their behavior to LatinConexiones using the Report Abuse feature.
Use one of the services on the internet to help you know if you are being catfished.
Helpful services to search on the internet: