What is Catfishing? Definition and examples

Catfishing is a fraudulent activity in which somebody creates a fake identity on a social networking platform. Typically, the perpetrator targets a specific individual for fraud or abuse.

Some con merchants assume a fake identity to trick victims into romantic or emotional relationship. These relationships can last for a very long time. The ultimate aim of the perpetrator is to extract money by deception, i.e., con the victim.

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For scammers to be successful, they must not meet up with their victims. If they did, their con would be ruined.

We call somebody who engages in catfishing a catfish.

Metro.co.uk says the following about the term:

“A catfish may steal someone else’s photos, videos or personal information to create a fake profile or website when they’re forming their bogus identity. Usually they invent a name or base the identity on someone they used to know.”

“The ultimate aim of a catfish is, nine times out of ten, to extract money or personal details from the victim, as in the email scam called phishing.”

Signs of possible catfishing

  • The writer makes spelling or grammar mistakes which a native speaker would not make.
  • They ask for money.
  • Some of their stories are very elaborate.
  • The relationship rapidly develops into a romantic one – perhaps too quickly.
  • They claim to be extremely ill or are suffering in some other way.
  • You can never communicate with them by phone or via a webcam.
  • They have either no or few friends in their social media platform.
  • They do not have a permanent address because of their job.
  • It all seems too good to be true.

If you spot any of these catfishing red flags, either in your relationship or of somebody you know, take action immediately.

Some online services such as socialcatfish.com can help you determine whether the other person is genuine or a scammer.

In one of our previous articles, I explained that catfishing is on the rise worldwide. Not only should you be alert for such scammers for yourself and friends, but also your children.