I’m sure we’re all familiar with the term “catfish”—a person who pretends to be someone else.
It, unfortunately, happens way too often, so much so that most platforms aim to educate people on the topic.
The thing about catfishing is that it’s potentially dangerous, with many stories to prove.
Catfishes go for a dime a dozen on social media and dating platforms; nowadays, it’s more shocking coming across a real person.
So, what are some signs that help spot a catfish? How can we prevent getting catfished in the first place? Let me tell you all about it!
– Most importantly, what’s a catfish?
Before we proceed, we first need to know what we’re dealing with.
A catfish is a person or entity that creates a fake online persona online (e.g. social media networks) to interact with other people for specific intentions.
Catfishing is what this act is known as, and being catfished means that a person is already falling into the trap.
The catfishing problem is so severe that, according to Statista, one-in-ten adults in the US have interacted with a catfish.
And 8% of the men said they had sent money to a catfish.
A frightening concept with alarming numbers to match.
Now that we know the basics, let’s start off with the potential signs of a catfish.
1. A catfish’s profile doesn’t have many pictures.
It’s a rule of thumb for catfishes: their profiles don’t have a lot of photos—especially on dating sites.
And that’s because they’re not the person whose pictures they’re using—that, and they don’t want to look suspicious.
A catfish’s whole identity revolves around the pictures they use online.
They usually use pictures of gorgeous people to appeal to others.
But because that’s not them (and they probably found a random image on the internet), they don’t have a lot of pictures of the people they’re impersonating.
Hence, they don’t have too many photos at their disposal.
2. Getting them to send selfies is impossible.
For similar reasons that I mentioned above, a catfish doesn’t send real-time selfies of themselves.
I’m talking about candid pictures in casual settings, even though you’ve been texting for a while.
You just can’t seem to get a random selfie out of them, for the life of you! And that’s a big, red flag and what usually gives catfishes away.
They’re not who they say they are on social media or dating apps, so they can’t just send a selfie when you ask them for one.
3. Their photos are weirdly cropped and/or have low quality.
Another indicative sign has to do with images!
It’s almost as if the very thing they use to lure people in, also gives them away.
But, yes—if the person you’re talking to has low-quality, weirdly-cropped, and suspicious pictures, they’re most likely catfish.
As we know, catfishes use attractive strangers’ photos; to use their pictures, they need to save them and possibly crop them.
Doing both those actions results in decreasing the picture’s quality greatly: the images look blurry/pixelated and cropped funnily.
Watch out for this, though, as catfishes are becoming smarter with each passing day!
4. They won’t video-chat if their lie depends on it!
I think we’re starting to see a pattern here: catfishes don’t show their faces in real time under any circumstances.
If, say, you always ask a person you met online to video chat, but they always find excuses, that’s your cue.
Of course, it could also be a result of them being shy, cautious, or having low self-esteem, but I’m talking about a person always refusing to video chat.
Let’s say a person texts you, showing an interest in you and always flirting; they don’t seem shy or anything like that.
You want to get to know this person more, and ask to video chat—but they refuse every time.
It’s most likely because they’re catfishing you by using another person’s photos; by video chatting, their cover will get blown.
They’re not who they claim to be, and there’s no way they can fake their appearance on a real-time, video call.
5. A catfish rarely picks up the phone.
Or they protest calling in the first place.
Similar to video calls, a person who’s catfishing dreads answering a call because usually, they lie about their gender or age as well.
This is pretty common with money scams—a scammer impersonates an attractive woman, using her pictures to lure men in.
Though, more organized scammers can use voice changers, or even catfish using their female colleague’s identity.
Sadly, everything is possible with scammers.
Another thing to keep in mind is that someone can catfish as a person of the same gender.
So them taking your calls and having a matching voice doesn’t necessarily mean they’re in the clear.
6. Someone who’s catfishing will most likely avoid physical meet-ups.
Now, don’t get me wrong: it’s fairly common for people to decline dates with people they meet online for safety reasons.
And I think that’s how it should be.
However, I’m talking about someone refusing to meet up with the partner they met online.
They have been talking for a while, and as a result, a serious relationship has been formed—yet, the catfish still declines dates.
There’s a high chance a person is catfishing their partner in one way or another, and attempting to hide it by not meeting up with them.
A catfish always finds excuses as to why they can’t hang out and/or cancels last minute.
The person who’s being catfished will always get stood up, or simply rejected.
7. If they do want to meet up, they pick a sketchy place.
A possible reason why people catfish is because they want to inflict harm on another person.
Countless reports have been made regarding a person being attacked by a catfish they met online.
Of course, they didn’t know they were being catfished.
If you’re talking to a person online, and they have a date planned out in a sketchy place, I recommend not going through with it.
Always, always meet with new people in crowded, well-lit, and familiar places, just to be safe.
You may be chatting and potentially meeting up with a dangerous catfish whose intentions are to hurt you—the last thing you want is to be near them.
8. There are a lot of plot holes in their stories.
Always be on the lookout for the (many) inconsistencies and slip-ups their stories have.
Catfishes tend to lie about their daily routine and overall life; they try to sound as interesting as possible so they fabricate their life story.
They lie a lot, and they’re bound to slip up sooner or later, right?
Yes, they are and they will! Keep an eye out for whenever their lies catch up to them.
For example., the catfish you’re talking to might’ve told you that they have a certain car brand some time ago.
But fast forward, they send you pictures of another car.
They tell so many lies, they find it hard to keep track of all of them—that’s why we need to be sharp.
9. They ask for personal details way too early on.
A pretty huge chunk of the catfish community are scammers—they aim for some sort of financial gain.
And they achieve their goal the moment people give their info away.
A catfish who’s hoping to benefit in some way will ask us for personal details (e.g. credit card info, contact details, name/last names, residential addresses, etc).
Credit cards are the most requested information among catfishing scammers, and I’m sure a lot of us have experienced it.
If you’re talking to a person who asks for such sensitive details way too early on, there’s a high chance they’re catfish looking to cause some type of harm.
10. They ask for money and other similar “favors”.
When it comes to catfishes, asking for money is probably one of the dead giveaways.
As I said, a lot of scammers catfish for financial gain, and at times, they don’t even try to hide it.
Right off the bat, they ask for money or financial aid.
They might even have a convincing sob story—none of it is true.
If we fall for their trap, not only will we waste money, but our credit card information could be leaked and misused.
11. They’re too nice right off the bat – it’s called love-bombing.
Another obvious sign: catfishes are way too flirty to the point where they look suspicious.
Because they’re trying to attract people, catfishes usually put on this fun and flirty facade, which, sadly, a lot of people fall for.
They send lots of romantic emojis or even act sexually.
They are so generous with their compliments and flirt their way into your heart—but don’t be fooled.
When we think about it, it’s a bit unusual for a person we’re involved with to start flirting excessively, let alone a stranger online.
A catfish will try to steal your heart and manipulate you to view them as trustworthy because they want something in return.
12. Small social media presence is a possible sign.
They rarely post, and when they do, it’s low-quality, yet professional pictures.
A catfish doesn’t interact with other people either—that’s because their profile is fake.
Their account has a small number of followers, yet they follow a lot of people.
Everything about their socials is just so inorganic:
- No candid/casual photos;
- No interaction with other users;
- A small number of followers;
- No comments, posts, shares, tags, or mentions;
- Only a sexual/flirty bio, etc.
I’m sure you know what I mean—we’ll know once we see a catfish.
13. Take a look at their account’s age—is it recent?
Because if so, we might be onto something.
We could be dealing with a catfish who just made a new account to do their catfish activities.
A lot of catfishes make numerous fake profiles—some even being bots—and that’s common.
Though it’s not the most foolproof sign, this paired up with other signs is grounds for suspicion!
It happens quite often really—you get a friend request from a supermodel you don’t know, who happens to follow a lot of people.
14. They don’t add people on other social media.
And that’s because they don’t have other socials.
If, say, we’re talking to somebody on a dating app (or any other social media platform), our initial thought would be to ask for their other handles.
That’s how it usually goes: you like somebody, you ask for their socials.
A catfish will never give their socials or phone number away, no matter how long you’ve known them.
They want to minimize the chances of their lies being found out, or they simply don’t have other profiles due to the fact their whole persona has been fabricated.
They protest giving you their phone number or any other thing that may help reveal their falsehoods.
15. They’re not verified on dating sites is usually a bad sign.
Dating apps are catfishes’ turf—that’s where they often go to carry out their romantic scams.
However, the good thing about certain dating apps is that they verify their users’ identities in some way.
Some dating apps require users to send some sort of ID or real-time picture for their team to review.
Meaning that their system is pretty hard to crack; this verification process is sometimes optional, but if completed, users are rewarded with a badge.
That badge is visible in their dating profile, so, if a person isn’t verified, that means they didn’t undergo the procedure, for some reason.
And I can’t help but believe that the reason is they’re not who they say they are.
16. You know almost nothing about them and their life.
On top of not knowing their friends and family, you also don’t know anything about their personal life.
And that’s because they never mention it—or refuse to talk about it.
They never talk about themselves on a deeper level.
Online people whose basic information you don’t even know will always be a red flag and an enigma.
If they’re simply modifying their actual identity, they won’t let you in on their life because they don’t want their lies to unfold.
And if they’re catfishing as another person, they will lie about their whereabouts and personal life.
17. They can’t be found anywhere online: a fake identity.
You can try searching for a catfish online, however, you won’t find anything.
Looking their name up on socials will result in either failure or a completely different person.
Catfishes also have no handles mentioned on their catfishing accounts; they can’t be found anywhere else.
That’s because their whole identity has been concocted to fool other people.
18. Their texts are short, filled with typos, and have odd patterns.
If you think you’re being targeted by a catfish, pay attention to their texting habits.
Are they unnecessarily short, with too many abbreviations?
Do they have way too many typos and grammatically incorrect elements?
Do they have odd patterns such as excessive and inappropriate usage of emojis?
Because if so, the person you’re talking to may be either a catfish or a bot.
A lot of catfishes/scammers are foreigners, and that explains the grammatically incorrect and/or short sentences.
Also, bots would explain the short, nonsensical, emoji-filled texts!
19. They send you quite a lot of links.
Never, and I repeat, never click on links sent by strangers online.
If the person you started talking to suddenly starts sending links and insisting you open them, they’re most likely catfishes—scammers, more precisely.
They’re most definitely trying to hack your devices and/or trying to install malware.
And if they succeed, your data will be at serious risk, meaning that you too, could be in possible danger.
Never open links sent by people online!
20. All in all, everything about them seems so perfect—suspiciously perfect.
Because catfishes aren’t using their real identities, they’re able to craft the perfect (fake) life.
Their profile seems too perfect: from their appearance and daily life, up to their personality, everything is flawless.
They’re too good to be true, and that’s because they’re not true.
If you’re having a gut feeling that a specific person is suspicious of how perfect they are, trust that feeling.
Catfishes will go to any lengths to fabricate the perfect person to lure other people—they will say whatever the other person wants to hear.
They want to gain something, but the only way to do it is by faking their character.
How to uncover their lies? Spotting and outsmarting a catfish in style!
You might be wondering if there are any ways to find out if a person is catfishing—I’m happy to report that the answer is yes!
Some methods help us in this case—they’re quick and easy to do.
And if you’re curious, here are 6 methods that help spot and out a catfish:
- Ask them to send a specific photo doing something. If they’re reluctant, they’re likely catfish.
- Ask them a weird question if you suspect they’re a bot. A human will spot the oddity and address it, a bot will go along with it.
- Do a background check on them by searching their name and last name on Google and social media.
- Reverse search their images by using tools online such as TinEye, DupliChecker, and Google Lens.
- Try having a video call with them, if they’re catfishing you, their mask will fall apart.
- Be cautious of the consistency in their stories.
What to do when you’re being catfished? The finale…
When you’re 100% sure that the person you’re talking to is a catfish, report them on the site immediately; save others.
You can also report them in real life if the catfish is a scammer or an overall dangerous person—for your sake and others.
Catfishes are potentially dangerous to people but can mask themselves pretty well.
Never meet up with or send sensitive information to people you meet online; who knows what’s hiding behind their screens?
Safety comes first.