Spot a Catfish
By Jonathan Owen
Published 20th November 2018
Last modified 28th October 2022
Last modified 28th October 2022
‘Catfishing’ is the internet slang term used when a person creates a fake online identity, pretending to be someone they are not. The creation of a fake profile usually involves stealing someone else’s photos, videos and personal information. The most common type of catfishing involves luring or tricking the victim into becoming romantically interested in the fake persona, or ‘the catfish’.
So, if you’ve met someone from an online dating site, but some things seem a bit off, here are some of the signs to help you spot a catfish before you get reeled in.
This is the most obvious sign, since video chats or face-to-face meetings will expose their lies. If they are constantly making excuses to not FaceTime you or claim their webcam is broken, this might suggest that how they appear in real life may be different to how they appear online.
Similarly, catfishes will try to avoid meeting face-to-face at all costs. A genuine romantic interest should be willing to move the relationship offline; be wary if they are always finding reasons not to see you in real life.
Photos also offer important clues – if all their photos, selfies, etc. look like they were professionally shot, this could suggest the photos were stolen from somewhere else. Google Image Search is a great way to find the source of these photos; if the results show links to stock photo sites, modelling websites, or even someone else’s Instagram profile, you may be dealing with a catfish.
Usually, when you get to know someone, you’ll find out more about them – like where they grew up, how many siblings they have, or where they studied. Asking plenty of questions will help establish whether the person is telling the truth or an elaborate lie.
For example, if someone claims they are a neurosurgeon who volunteers at the animal shelter and is also a full-time Instagram travel blogger, think about how likely this is to be true. Another example of a red flag is if someone claims they grew up in a certain town, but is unable to answer any specific questions about the area.
Check their Facebook friend count – if it’s very low, and the account was made fairly recently, this is a good indicator of a fake profile. Even the most private accounts will show some level of interaction between family and friends, such as wall posts, comments, and photo tags. This can also apply to Twitter and Instagram profiles; checking out the individual on multiple platforms will help verify their identity.
This is a major red flag that can sometimes be ignored in the pursuit of love. Any requests for cash are usually accompanied by a sob story meant to pull at the heartstrings. If they’re asking for money – especially if you haven’t known each other for long – that means they’re not looking for love!
On the other hand, if someone seems to be moving too quickly this might mean they are not legitimate. A catfish may start gushing with affection after just a few messages, whereas real intimacy takes time to build and can’t be rushed.
Consistency is key when it comes to messages. If the person is showering you with compliments one week, then completely ignoring you the next, this is another red flag to consider.
If the person you’re talking to sounds too good to be true, then unfortunately they probably are. If you find that more than a few of these red flags apply to your current online dating life, then you may be dealing with a catfish.