Are you among those who easily believe in every person they talk to on social media? If yes, you must think twice before trusting someone who contacts you on social media.
Social media is a new home for scammers. They use multiple types of illusions to force people to believe in realities that don’t exist. And catfishing is one of them.
Don’t know what catfishing is? And why do social media users, especially influencers, need to stay aware of it? You should read this article. It will enlighten you about almost everything you need to know regarding catfishing. Let’s directly dive into the world of catfishing without further ado!
What is Catfishing?
Catfishing is a new and more deceptive practice that most scammers use to build relationships with social media users and trick them. In this scam, fraudsters pretend to be the people they aren’t. They steal others’ identities, use their names, pictures, and other data and usually contact their friends and family members and ask for financial help.
Moreover, many scammers use catfishing to build romantic, emotional, and business relationships with others using fake names. Catfishing is derived from the fishing world, where catfish is used as bait to lure fish. Similarly, in the real world, the catfish is a person who lures the victims using false realities.
The catfishing method could be used for different purposes. For example, sometimes people do it to prank their friends, some to scam people, and others to stalk others.
However, whatever the purpose behind catfishing is, it is always unethical. And social media users, especially influencers, should always avoid it.
Catfishing has become a real issue in the digital world. It affects tons of people every day. Many social media users report catfishing attempts to the concerned authorities, and others don’t even report the catfishing attempts. That’s why claiming the real numbers about catfishing is a bit harder, but almost every person faces it using social media.
How Do People Become Victims of Catfishing On Social Media?
Here is an essential question regarding catfishing. There are plenty of different reasons why people fall prey to this scam. However, the most common ones are here:
Lack of Awareness
There is almost every kind of person available on social media platforms. Some know everything about this world; others just know how to scroll down and check their feed.
Moreover, they aren’t aware of the signs of being catfished. They quickly fall into the trap of catfishes as they don’t critically analyze different situations. They always blindly trust the people on the other end of the chats. And believe that what the other person is saying is always correct.
The basic reason behind this is that they don’t know the different kinds of scams prevalent these days.
The catfishes take advantage of their lack of awareness. They paint false pictures in front of the photographs and trap them. Ultimately, they build relationships with them, and when they know it is the right time, they do their work and run away without leaving any traces.
Desire for Romance
The desire for romance, relationships, and attention is another significant factor behind falling into catfish traps. Many people always try to develop romantic relationships with new people. They may feel lonely or not satisfied with their current relationships.
So, they join different dating apps or contact people on social media. Their desire for a new relationship forces them to believe in catfishers.
Catfishers constantly research their victims and target people with different vulnerabilities, and the desire for a relationship is one of them. They present themselves as the right and caring people, the victims in their lives. The victims start thinking that they have found the people they need. Eventually, their desire and trust hit them very hard when they know the catfish tricked them.
Lack of Verification
Social media has made it easier for anyone to create a fake profile. Even a random person sitting in the United States can create a fake profile in the name of Portuguese Star Cristiano Ronaldo.
They can also trick their fans by using Cristiano’s name. This happened to most people when the scammers used the star name to loot people. Most people fall prey to the trap when they don’t verify whether the person on the other end is real.
Types of Catfishing in the Digital World
As a social media user, to protect yourself from this form of scam, you need to know what are the different types of catfishing. It can raise a red flag whenever someone tries to trick you. So, here are the most common types of catfishing on digital media.
Romantic catfishing is a type where scammers gradually develop romantic relationships with victims. For that purpose, they usually use dating apps. And exploit the romantic vulnerabilities of people. First, they let victims believe that they are the real person. Then, when the victims fully trust them, they ask for financial help. The moment they send money, the scammers block them and run away, never to come back.
This type of catfishing is also very common these days. It isn’t harder for literate people to catch and avoid this scam.
However, people sometimes fall into the trap, especially those who know little about this scam. In financial catfishing, the scammers pretend to be financial advisors, bankers, or charity workers.
After introducing themselves, they directly reach the point and try to convince people to hand them over their personal information or send them some money.
They usually use Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and professional networking channels. Although the methods of different catfishes could be different, their goal is common; loot people. From getting a few bucks to wiping out bank accounts, financial catfishing can have effects of various magnitudes.
Identity Theft Catfishing
Identity theft catfishing is one of the most destructive types of catfishing. In this type of catfishing, scammers steal others’ details from the internet or use hacking software programs. Once they get information, they create fake social media profiles to scam their friends or family members. When the fake profile is created, they add the people the real person knows.
They regularly post content on social media that the person likes the most. Then, when their IDs age, they start scamming people on the real person’s name. And mostly, those catfishes succeed in looting people.
Ways to Identify if You Are Catfished on Social Media
Although catfishers have been using advanced methods to scam people, there are multiple ways to determine if you are being catfished on social media. Here they are!
Thoroughly Check the Social Media Profile
One of the easiest ways to analyze whether the person you are talking to on social media is real is to check their social media profiles.
You should review their engagement on social media. How many people have they added, and how many react to their posts? Moreover, you should also analyze the nature of the comments. If they are saying bad things about the person, you should see it as a red flag and avoid communicating with them.
Additionally, limited information in the about section signifies a fake account. So, keep these things in mind while analyzing accounts.
Use Reverse Image Search Method
Reverse image search techniques can be your best friend in preventing catfishing scams. Whenever a new person contacts you, you should download their profile pictures and use a photo finder to find images on the web. You may get much data about the person from image search engines. For example, you can quickly find out if the profile is fake, as you may see the real profile on your screen.
Ask for the Video Call
Suppose a person is pretending to be the person you know. You should directly ask them to come on the video call. This trick often helps people avoid becoming victims of scam attempts.
The scammers always try to hide their faces and locations, so they won’t ever come on the video chat. So, if they avoid video calls, immediately block them.
Famous Catfishing Cases
The list of celebrities and influencers tricked by catfishers is quite long. But there are the most famous cases of catfishing with influencers.
Catfish Who Scammed Influencers and Sold their Pictures
A catfisher known as “White Plastic” appeared in a Dr. Phil episode, tricked many new social media influencers, and encouraged them to send their naked pictures. Then, he used to sell those pictures on the internet for hundreds of dollars. He posed himself as a prominent YouTuber and contacted emerging influencers. He then asked for their naked photos, which they sent to him. An influencer named Larz, with almost half a million followers, also sent him the money.
Nev Schulman Catfished
Nev Schulman, the co-creator of the “Cat: The TV Show.” Schulman has also been catfished before starting the show. The famous photographer and content creator was contacted by a girl who painted his pictures and sent them to him. After some time, Abby introduced her entire family on social media to Schulman. He went into a romantic online relationship with Abby’s sister Megan only to know that she didn’t exist. And the pictures she used to trick Schulman were of an actress named Aimee Gonzalez.
Catfishing is an emerging challenge for social media users. Unfortunately, most people don’t know that they are being catfished, and when they lose their money or friends, they learn that they have been scammed. Raising awareness about this issue is the responsibility of everyone, mainly social media influencers. Otherwise, everyone will see others with a skeptical eye, and people will even believe real people.