The lure of catfishing

By Sharon Hodge

The lure of catfishing:

Don’t get hooked by phony online relationships

There was a 2010 documentary, “Catfish,” about it (that’s where the term comes from), which spawned an MTV show of the same name. And earlier this year, Manti Te’o, a Notre Dame football player, contending for the Heisman trophy and headed for the NFL, was caught up in a scandal about a fake dead girlfriend, a fraud apparently perpetrated by a young man he knew.
So, with all the overblown, exaggerated and downright fraudulent online personalities out there, how do you keep from getting drawn into a relationship with someone who is a complete fabrication?

Some red flags
Here are just a few signs the person you are engaging with online might not be who s/he claims to be.

  • First, apply the old adage: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. A model, really?
  • S/he wants to switch over immediately from a dating or social networking site to private email or instant messaging.
  • Planned meetings keep getting derailed, often by tragic events or unusual circumstances.What can you do to protect yourself?
  • Don’t share private information online. Too much personal data makes you an easy target for those who want create a persona to match whatever you like. And keep up with the privacy policies and settings of sites such as Facebook and Instagram – changes in these can put your private information right out there in public.
  • Be skeptical. Ask questions. Don’t worry about offending, and don’t ignore your gut instincts or red flags.
  • Ask to video chat. If your romantic interest can’t ever seem to talk on the phone or videochat, watch out.
  • Check Facebook, LinkedIn and other accounts. New profiles or those with low friend counts can signal that someone is creating many accounts and doesn’t have time to make up a lot of fake friends to accompany each new profile. Also beware a lack of tagged photos.

It’s hard to admit you might be getting scammed, so talking with a parent or friend about the relationship can be a good way to see if anything sounds fishy to someone who is a little less invested.


By Sharon Hodge| November 21, 2013

About the Author

Sharon Hodge

Sharon Hodge

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