Definition of a catfish:
Catfishing is when someone uses a different identity in order to trick another person into believing that they’re that person online
Reasons they do it:
Catfish scammers are rarely looking for money. Mostly, it seems, they want your affection or sympathy.
Ways to spot one:
Do a reverse image Google search. This is a quick and easy background check. Right-click their photos, copy the URL, and paste in the box at images.google.com
Do you know what EXIF Data is? The average Internet user isn’t familiar with Exchangeable image file format (EXIF) data. But EXIF can be a powerful weapon in detecting fraud. In short, EXIF is meta-data embedded in common image file types which can provide, among other things, the GPS location the photo was taken, the date the image originated, if the photo has been edited (to remove a model’s watermark perhaps?) and other interesting information.
Let’s say that a stranger contacts you and, after some fumbling, sends you a gorgeous stunning photo and claims they are a model. Maybe you want to check the EXIF data to see the photo’s history. You don’t need fancy hacker software. Just go to http://regex.info/exif.cgi and either upload the photo or input the photo’s web URL.
When did they register their account? Almost every social network lets you check out how long someone’s been a member. If someone has created a fake account just for the purpose of misleading you then can easily tell how long ago they registered it. If they have an account that’s just a few weeks old but it’s loaded with a lifetime of pictures that should be a red flag.
Given the nature of Catfish Scammers they may suggest they had to delete or stop using their old profile because their life was in danger or because something traumatic happened.
Google it. There’s a lot to be said for Googling names other than your own. See if you can find any credible information about them. If there’s nothing, that should raise alarm bells.
Money. Lending a fiver to your best mate for lunch is one thing, but if your new online ‘buddy’ is already asking you for money
Check their check-ins. Everyone should have some sort of indication on their Facebook profile that they have a life outside their computer. We’ve all checked in somewhere on Facebook with friends or familym be it the local cinema or somewhere else.
Check their posts. Everyone gets a post from someone every now and then, even if it’s from your great aunty sharing a funny meme. If no one has posted on their wall to wish them a happy birthday or shared anything with them then this has got to be a cause for concern.
Check their photos. There’s nothing wrong with having photos of yourself on your profile (it is your profile after all), but if they don’t have any photos with their friends or family and it’s mostly photos of themselves at weird angles with bad lighting, then something’s up; are they even tagged in other friends’ photos?
Check their mates. Do you have any mutual friends? If so, can they vouch for them? If they only have a handful of random contacts, it’s usually a telltale sign.
Get real. If it seems too good to be true – it probably is (sorry to be bursting the bubble). Watch out, if it’s all getting a bit too serious, too soon and they’re making obscure promises, get the hint. They aren’t going to fly you to the Caribbean
Got the story straight? Make sure everything they’re telling you adds up (trust your gut instinct). Conflicting information is a sign their whole identity is built on lies, so it’s hard to always keep the story straight
Skype ‘em. If they don’t want to Skype, Facetime or even Snapchat, this is a big red flag. It’s an easy excuse to spot because they are hiding their true identity, so beware.
Watch out for elaborate stories e.g., lies. Catfishes tell outrageous lies which are often a dead give-a-way. A Catfish may well claim to be a model or work in the music industry.