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Catfished by a fake dating profile illustration

Are You Being Catfished? Here’s How To Catch Fake Dating Profiles

“Plenty of fish in the sea” was once a comforting bromide for singles and disillusioned daters, but online dating has given the expression a whole new meaning. Today’s virtual dating pool has become overpopulated by an unwanted species: the catfish.

What is a Catfish?

Urban Dictionary defines a Catfish as; 

“Someone who pretends to be someone they’re not using Facebook or other social media to create false identities, particularly to pursue deceptive online romances.” 

The term started getting notoriety around the release of the 2010 documentary “Catfish”, and the launch of the Catfish TV show in 2012. The premise of both movie and show was that a camera crew would follow someone and their online relationship as they discovered whether the person they were talking to was real or fake. The movie’s release happened to match up with a leap in the online dating industry, as 2010 marked a 153% increase in revenue for the industry in the US. As online dating began to explode onto the dating scene so did fears over catfishing.

Don’t take the bait. Learn how to catch a catfish and navigate the murky waters of online dating.

How To Tell If You’re Being Catfished

We’ve all done it before; layered on that final filter to get the perfect selfie, blurred out a blemish, or masked a flaw with the perfect angle. Catfishes, however, completely cross the boundary between fact and fiction. Luckily, there are ways to identify and avoid members of this species. 

They’re too good to be true

If you’re raving to your friends about how your new match is “too good to be true”, it’s time to double-check and make sure they are true. Look out for red flags like professional-looking photos and selfies that look like they were plucked from the pages of Vogue. Nobody’s that perfect, so take these profiles with a grain of salt.

They won’t show their face

Unanswered video calls and refusals to meet up in person are another sign that the person you’re talking to might be a catfish. While catfish are eager to chat with you online, they avoid face-to-face encounters at all costs. Revealing their true identity would destroy their virtual facade. When online dating, ensure that your matches are willing to emerge from behind their screen. You deserve a connection and this test will prevent you from wasting your time on a phony. 

They ask you for personal information

While your intentions on a dating platform are likely to date, the catfish tends to have ulterior motives. If someone on a dating platform asks you for money or random personal information about you, you are likely being scammed. Make sure your conversations are genuine. Nobody should be that interested in your mothers’ maiden name.

Nothing adds up

Have you ever heard someone claim that they have the “attention span of a goldfish”? Keep this in mind when online dating, it applies to catfishes as well. If your match claims to be the CEO of their company but asks you to “help out” by sending a bit of cash their way, end the conversation immediately. A real person won’t struggle to keep their life story in line.

They “don’t have social media”

It’s 2021 and unless they work for the CIA or they’re living under a rock, your match likely has some form of social media. If you can’t find a trace of this person or their “friends” online, they could be a fraud. Do a bit of digging to make sure your match is real.

What To Do When You’re Being Catfished

It’s time to make catfish your catch of the day. Once you suspect a catfish, you can use the following strategies to confirm your findings and reel them in.

Do a reverse Google image search

If you’re wary of the photos on someone’s profile, upload them into Google search. A reverse image search will show you where else you can find those photos on the internet. If they come up under different names elsewhere, assume that you’re dealing with a catfish and move on.

Catch them off guard

If the person in question continues to decline your calls and refuses to meet up in person, ask them to send you a picture on the fly. If they can’t produce a picture of themself doing something simple, say, drinking a glass of water or petting their dog, you may have caught them red-handed. Dating online should be authentic. You deserve to interact with your matches beyond their carefully crafted profiles.

Report them

Once you’ve caught a catfish, report their profile to the relevant social network. Catfishing is often associated with criminal activities and it’s important to contribute to a safe online space. Beyond this, your efforts could help optimize others’ online experiences by ensuring they’re able to make genuine connections.

While 10% of dating profiles are fake, don’t lose hope. There really are plenty of fish in the sea and as long as you know how to navigate the waters you can avoid catfishes. Remember our tips for spotting and dealing with catfishes.
For more advice on how to avoid online dating disasters check out our article on the 12 most common dating bio mistakes. For articles on dealing with unwanted online daters check out our articles on getting ghosted and zombieing to find out more!

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