Catfishing: What you need to know about this form of cyberbullying
Thanks to the internet and social media, we can now connect and communicate with new people now and then. However, this innovative way of communication opens up the doors to fraudulence and cyberbullying. And catfishing is one of those deceptive ways to trick and bully people.
What is catfishing?
Catfishing is the act of pretending to be someone else to deceive people or to entangle people into fake relationships and later exploit them. It refers to the practice of creating a false identity by setting up a fictitious profile. A catfish gets a hold of someone's picture and uses it as bait to con people. In most cases, the ultimate goal of this malicious actor is to extract money or personal details from people by harassing or blackmailing them. It is like a combination of phishing and cyberbullying.
Catfishing and cyberbullying go hand in hand as a catfish impersonate someone else and it is an intentional act. Like a cyberbully, a catfish often exploits the emotions of people, especially those who are emotionally vulnerable. The victims are mostly those who have somehow expressed some kinds of their personal views and opinions online which have caught the attention of the catfishes.
Telltale signs of catfishing
If you don't want to be duped by any strangers online, look for the signs of a catfish in a person with whom you are interacting.
Avoid personal communication
A catfish does not want to talk in person, on the phone or in video chat showing excuses. They are too much friendly while interacting with you and build a good bonding within a short period. But they still avoid to share minimum contact information or to have a face-to-face conversation with you.
Have lots of friends of the opposite sex or a handful of friends on social media
For instance, a regular female catfish will have a great number of male friends online. Likewise, a male catfish targets females resulting in a great number of female friends online. Additionally, a catfish may keep very few friends or no friends online which is quite unusual for now. It can also be a sign of a catfish.
Lack of proper grammar
Whenever it comes to some sorts of phishing and cyberbullying, there is a common way to find out about it and that is a lot of grammatical mistakes in the texts or messages. And there is no exception in the case of catfishing. If you see the unknown person is not at all comfortable while sending you messages in their native language, you should try to find out some more details about them. This is a sign that you should consider, but it may not always be true.
Ask for money
As mostly the ultimate aim of these frauds is to extract money from the victims, they'll ask for money giving various excuses such as family issues, medical conditions, financial crisis etc. It is always nice to help people who are in need. However, you need to be cautious before any money transaction for your safety. Don't fall for people with profile pictures of some random anime characters or dolls asking for money or flexiload. Let's not go back to those days of Facebook when such fraudulence regarding flexiload or money transaction was common.
How to avoid a catfish
While talking to someone whom you don't know personally, you must be cautious about their approach and intention. Try to find out what they want by questioning tactfully. And if someone whom you know is trying to contact you from a different profile and the behaviour seems unusual, do not hesitate to confront that person. In case you have that person's number, you can even call him/her to be assured.
Search his/her image on Google Reverse
Sometimes a catfish takes images from the common resources available such as different social media platforms or Google. In case you are confused, you can check their picture of what they claim to be theirs on Google Reverse. If you get the exact one and they are different people, you are being catfished.
Avoid accepting random friend requests or talking to people
The internet is a great way to communicate with new people. However, we must ensure that the person with whom we start building a relationship is not a fraud. Do some basic research about the person before accepting a random friend request. Furthermore, thorough research and basic details of that person are mandatory before you share your feelings or sensitive information with them.