Hi beautiful people,
I am a member of quite a few women’s groups on Facebook and recently I’ve noticed a few posts from ladies who are having ‘boy trouble’. From reading some of the posts on the groups I realised that a lot of women aren’t suspicious of catfish, even when confronted with red flags that indicate they might be talking to one.
For all the men out there, I’m sure this also happens to you too but I am not part of many men groups so I’m not sure to what extent. The majority of people I speak to about dating are also women but feel free to contact me with any examples of men who have been catfished. I would actually be interested to know whether the signs are different.
What is a Catfish?
Just to clarify, a catfish is someone who creates a fake online dating profile. Therefore, the photos used will be of someone else (usually someone conventionally really attractive) such as a model.
In case you wanted something a bit more official, according to Google a catfish is someone who “lures (someone) into a relationship by adopting a fictional online persona”
Why is this an issue?
Well, without stating the obvious, a catfish may have no intention to meet you and may drag a conversation or ‘the courting process’ on for a very long time. This can get incredibly frustrating for the other party who may be manifesting feelings for this person and be keen to meet up.
A catfish could also have an ulterior motive and in some cases could be dangerous. In my experience, the catfish I have encountered only seemed to be after conversation and photos of me. However, there have been many reported cases of catfish who have scammed people out of large sums of money. This can become a serious issue for someone who may be in a particularly vulnerable position.
My first experience with a catfish
The first time I came across a catfish (even after watching a few episodes of the MTV show) I was shocked that it had actually happened to me. Luckily I hadn’t invested too much time or energy before it was brought to my attention. However, when I did realise I had been catfished, it made me extra vigilant moving forward. Suffice to say that I now have a list of red flags, hence my post. However, the first time it happened to me was by accident.
Here’s the story…
I had matched with a guy on Tinder and he was very cute, great body and great photos. For the purpose of this post, his name will be John* and we had been texting for about 2 weeks before we decided to set something up. We arranged to meet on a Sunday for coffee and luckily I was meeting the girls for drinks on Friday night.
As you can imagine, I was excited about the date and proceeded to tell a friend about it. She was also excited for me and asked me to show her a photo of him, which I did. She looked at the photo and said ‘I’ve seen this guy before’. At first I wondered whether she meant that she had seen him on Tinder or maybe also matched with him – Awkward! But that isn’t what she meant at all. She asked me to screenshot the photo and send it to her.
She then forwarded the photo to another (gay) male friend of ours, asking if he knew him. It turned out that our friend did in fact know him and he was a model who was in fact gay. I was really confused… why would my crush be gay? And why would he have his settings to women? – Still extremely naïve to the fact that John wasn’t who he said he was.
Anyway, I confronted him immediately and said that a friend of mine recognised him from his photo, how do they know each other? He acted stunned and said that my friend was mistaken. When I questioned him even further, he blocked me! – Red Flag.
I felt so lucky that I had shared his photo with my friend and that she did in fact recognise him. I kept thinking, what would have happened on Sunday? Would he have cancelled at the last minute? Would someone else have turned up? Who knows! All I knew is that from that point forward I wasn’t prepared to take any risks and I would be extra cautious with online dating.
Since then I have actually come across quite a few catfish – more so than any of my close friends. I think I am a magnet for them for some reason. Some I have spotted very easily because I have recognised the person in the photo from Instagram. Others have required a bit of digging but needless to say, I haven’t yet turned up to a date without being sure that they are who they say they are.
How to spot them
So, I’ve become quite good at spotting the old catfish and I would say that I’m very vigilant nowadays. I think I have developed a tingling catfish sense at this point. Hopefully I can shed some light on the issue and ensure that you are all being careful and I can help you in some way.
So, here are my personal tips:
1) In their profile pictures they are extremely good looking and have model-like photos
If all of their photos are stunning, really well taken, well-lit or even model like, I would question this. I would also be a bit weary if they only had 1 or 2 photos on their profile. My advice would be to always google image someone if you think they might fit into this bracket. I’ve done this a few times and found the models real names. Models will most likely come up on a google image search. Just drag and drop the image into the search bar. If you’re using your phone, there are now apps you can use to do this. Just search for apps that can reverse image search. I have used Veracity in the past but I know there are a few others.
2) Similar to the above – If they seem too good to be true in personality as well
If they are incredibly complimentary, polite, romantic and all of the above, sadly this is also a sign of fakery. This has actually happened to me before in which the guy was overly complimentary and just kept telling me how beautiful I was in my photos. He also made a point of telling me how romantic he is and how he loves to spoil any potential girlfriend etc.
3) If they are very intense very quickly
When someone I have just started speaking to online is intense or clingy, this makes me quite uncomfortable. Asking in depth questions about how many other people you are speaking to, sleeping with or dating can also be a sign. This can include asking to be exclusive before they have even met you or acting jealous when you tell them you are speaking to other people you’ve matched with.
4) If they constantly make excuses
Excuses for not meeting, not having any other social media profiles or perhaps not being able to skype or facetime is also a red flag. One of the men that I caught out said that he was happy to facetime me but whenever I tried calling, he would pick up and it was a black screen with some muffling. He implied that there was a poor connection and his facetime wasn’t very good. I then played dumb and said ‘what a shame! Send me a selfie instead – just for me.’ I wanted something personal that wasn’t on his profile, to which he sent me an incredibly blurry photo that I could hardly make out. Again, he blamed it on his phone.
5) If they constantly request for photos of you
If they are constantly requesting for you to send them new photos, especially intimate ones very early on, I would also be quite weary. I personally wouldn’t send intimate photos to anyone I hadn’t met and didn’t trust, such as a boyfriend or serious partner. However, from previous experience I have noticed that catfish are always incredibly eager for photos from day 1. This also might be replaced with dirty talk. When I have refused photos before I have quickly then be asked what I’m wearing or what I’m doing.
6) If they have a possessive or jealous attitude
I have touched on the jealousy issue in point 3 but this was actually one of the signs in which I spotted a catfish for a friend. In this scenario he was incredibly possessive with her about the fact that he thought she was talking to other men. He had concocted a story about his ex-girlfriend being a cheater and that he wouldn’t tolerate anything like this again. This story could sound legit and understandable but let’s remember that there is no excuse for anyone making you feel uncomfortable. On this occasion his messages were rude and controlling even though he had made no effort to meet her as suggested – Catfish alert!
In my experience I have also had aggressive and abusive messages when I have questioned their identity. Personally, if someone I liked asked me to prove I was me, I would happily skype them or send them a photo with today’s newspaper or whatever. Whenever someone is aggressively defensive about this, I just think – red flag!
7) If they don’t allow you access to their social media platforms outside of the dating app
To create a Tinder account, you will need a Facebook profile, therefore they should have no excuse for not having one. If they do, have a look at their friends list. A really low friend count can be a bad sign. If they have a lot of friends but it doesn’t seem like they are genuine friends eg. They don’t have comments, likes or engagement on their profile, this is also a sign to be weary. This also goes hand in hand with point 4 – making excuses. If someone doesn’t have skype, facetime or an equivalent and acts like they don’t have a clue what any of these things are, I would also be dubious. It is 2017! If you have a dating profile, it’s likely you have some app or device that will allow you to video chat.
8) If they ask you for money
As far as I’m concerned, this is a massive red flag! If they mention money in any way, shape or form, I would personally delete them from my life immediately and report them if possible. I don’t think anyone who hasn’t met you or at the very least is dating you should ask to help them out with money. Do not send this person money or any other personal details for that matter.
9) Trust your gut feeling
Perhaps this is just me but as I said above, I have a catfish sense these days. If ever I have any suspicion I will investigate my arse off before agreeing to meet anyone. Sherlock Holmes has nothing on me. If you feel like the person is too good to be true, trust that feeling and question it.
I hope this post has helped you to identify any situations in which you might think you have a catfish on your hands. Unfortunately this is one of the disadvantages of online dating. However, with a bit of common sense and vigilance, there is no need for us to waste our time.
I am also aware that there will be people who are incredibly good looking, romantic or who don’t have any other social media platforms. However, I think this is quite rare. The warning signs I have written are mostly to identify when people are showing more than one sign. And if someone is really good looking, romantic, complimentary etc. and they are genuine, great! Then there should be no reason for them to not want to see you.
Don’t be afraid to question anyone about their identity because it’s for your own safety. I also don’t think that it’s an unreasonable request to ask someone to facetime or send you a selfie. Don’t be discouraged if they seem offended because your safety should always come first.
I would also reiterate that your personal details should always remain personal, including photos or address details. You can always block someone from your phone, but once they have personal details, this becomes more difficult. I would also always meet someone new in a public and busy place.
Let me know if you’ve had any similar experiences or you think I may have missed anything out. I hope this article has helped you in some way. If anything I have shone a light on something you might not have experienced.
Happy dating! 😉
P.S. I’m not sure why I ended up with an animal theme in this post. I thought the photos suited the topic.