Catfishing Scams; Red Flags, Real Case Scenarios & Solutions

The digital realm has experienced an exponential rise in catfishing scams. So what is catfishing? It is a type of online deception where a person develops a fake identity to lure you into a relationship. They often steal photos of other people to create an identity that closely resembles your ideal type. There are various catfishing meanings, but the main idea is that; it is a form of online deception.  

One may wonder, what are the reasons that motivate a person to eat catfish. Experts proclaim the following elements to be the common enticers:

  1. Financial Gain: Catfishers are often looking to manipulate others for money. They can convince you to send them money for emergencies or as investments. 
  2. Emotional manipulation; Psychologists argue that catfishers suffer from inferior complexities. Hence, they create an identity that overcomes their shortcomings. 
  3. Personal information; Catfishers are often looking for sensitive information about their victims so that they can blackmail them in the future. So never share your pictures or videos with anyone online. 
  4. Revenge: It may seem like a movie plot, but there are vengeful people all around the world looking to settle the score with people who have wronged them. So it’s better to play safe and apologize to your acquaintances in case they are planning to cause you emotional distress. 

Red Flags

Looking at the factors that cause catfishing, one must wonder; is catfishing illegal? And how he can spot a catfisher? The following are some red flags to watch out for;

  1. Seems too good to be true: catfisher often creates profiles that seem too good to be true. Their profile is flawless which makes them less human Moreover, they share photos that portray an ideal lifestyle 
  2. Prefer to communicate only via online platforms: Catfsihers are hesitant to meet you in person or even conduct a video chat. They make excuses when you ask them to show themselves to avoid any real interaction. 
  3. Inconsistencies: If you are skeptical about a person or doubt whether a person is trying to catfish you, look for inconsistencies. The majority of the time, their stories would not add up. They might talk about being introverts if you ask them, but their profile photos might show them as outgoing. 
  4. Asking for money: Eventually one day or another, they might ask you for help in the form of money. Never fall into this trap. It should be a red flag if they ask for financial help or any sensitive detail. 

Real Cases of Catfishing Scams:

Here are some of the well-known cases of catfishing;

  1. Manti Te’o Hoax

There was a widely known case in which Notre Dame football player Manti Te’o was tricked into believing that he was in an online relationship with a woman named Lenny Kekua. Eventually, it turned out that one of his teammates had made up this false identity to attract attention. This shows how revenge and emotional manipulation can lead to a catfishing scandal.

  1. Millionaire Matchmaker

The renowned reality TV show “Millionaire Matchmaker’ often shows various cases of catfishing. People make fake profiles so that they can gain access to wealthy contestants on the show. This is another prime example of catfishing being used for personal gains. 

  1. Celebrity Impersonation:

Celebrity impersonation is another case of catfishing which is very popular nowadays. Numerous people on the internet mimic certain celebrities. They mimic their voice either naturally or via AI to come across as the celebrity. For instance, Nottomcruise is an account of a person on social media who mimics the famous Hollywood star Tom Cruise. This can be done for various reasons, or even financial gain. Hence, one needs to be careful in this scenario. 

How To Avoid Catfishing Scams

Such real-case scenarios give us a bleak picture of what is happening in the digital realm. Hence, it has become almost mandatory to protect oneself at all times. Here are some unique ways that can be used to avoid catfishing scams;

  1. Reverse Image Search: Catfishers operate by stealing photos online and then creating a fake profile. So the first thing one should do is to use a reverse image search tool that is available online to see if the person’s profile picture appears on any other webpage. And if it does pop up on another social media profile that is a red flag.
  2. Social Media Footprints: It is advisable to check the suspect’s social media presence. A genuine person often has a decently maintained online footprint. On the contrary, if one has a limited or unconnected social media profile then it is highly likely to be fabricated.
  3. The devil is in the details: If you are skeptical about a person on social media try to ask them specific questions about their claimed interests or experiences. A legitimate identity verification would be able to respond swiftly sharing in-depth experiences, meanwhile, a pseudo would respond vaguely and in generic terms. This indicates a setup of online dating scams. 


Conclusively, the digital realm has provided the masses a platform to communicate with each other but on the other hand, it has also opened a gateway for more deception. Catfishing scams are extremely manipulative. Hence, they need to be dealt with with the utmost skepticism to reduce the risk of falling victim.   

About Safikul Islam

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