Ingenious Internet predators these days cite various reasons for tricking people. No matter out of what they do it – loneliness, boredom or some emotions (hate, curiosity); luring naive Internet users into fake romantic relationships to seek love online has become a trend. A trend that is popularly referred as Internet Catfishing.
Internet Catfishing is a type of scam similar to the ones using messages that your computer has a virus, that you’ve won a lottery, or that you can earn money for little or no effort on your part but differs somewhat in nature. Hence, spotting a catfish scam is not as easy as spotting other scam. That’s because, unlike Catfishing, other scams expose themselves almost immediately by asking for a large cash sum up front A “Catfish” on the other hand, does not do so. It in fact, it chooses the most failure-prone connection on the Internet – RELATIONSHIP!
Scammers in catfishing use and post fake pictures, fabricate stories to send encouraging messages to entice inexperienced people into a relationship. The goal of course, remains the same as in other scams: The scammer wants to steal your personal information, your money, or both. Only the nature differs, as mentioned.
The term was coined by a filmmaker named Nev Schulman as the title for his 2010 documentary ‘catfish’ – A story about 28-year old man falling in love with a Facebook hottie who turns out not to be the person she claims to be online.
TIP: Read here about the most common Online and Email scams & frauds.
Internet Catfishing: How to avoid falling for it
Try chatting via a webcam
Not every chatter-box is comfortable with Web Cams. If someone disagrees to chat via web cam in first place and then later always finds excuses for avoiding so, it is indicative of the fact that the scammer is hiding his/her true identity. Avoid having long distance relationships with such frauds.
Always remember that people on the other end of online conversations might not be who they say they are. It’s always safe to treat all emails and social networking messages with caution when they come from someone you don’t know. So, Never share your passwords, even with someone you trust. If you think your accounts have been compromised, change your passwords as soon as possible.
If you suspect that someone is catfishing you, report them. Microsoft certainly makes it easy to report such crimes to relevant authorities.
Does your friend have a Facebook account & are his friends tagged in Facebook photos?
Facebook has become most suitable platform for catfishing. So, it is better to check if the suspect has photos with groups of friends that have no comments and tags. If they don’t, then they probably stole the images and could not tag the people in it. Unfriend the person immediately.
Stay safe! Remember, in the world of social networking, there’s always a free cheese in a mouse trap!
Speaking of scams, have a look at some of these posts:
- Avoid online scams and know when to trust a website
- Avoid Phishing Scams And Attacks
- Avoid Vishing and Smishing Scams
- Avoid Online Shopping Fraud & Holiday Season Scams
- Avoid scams that fraudulently use the Microsoft name.