Online Dating Red Flags: Warning Signs of a Catfish
With more than 40 million men and women online looking for love, there are bound to be some scam artists out there. A “catfish” is a person who creates a false online identity in the hopes of luring people into romantic relationships. Nev Schulman starred in the 2010 documentary, Catfish, about being drawn in by a woman online claiming to be someone she wasn’t. Now the executive producer of Catfish: The TV Show on MTV, he advises you to think before you begin your next online relationship. Look out for these early warning signs that your love interest may not be who they say they are:
The Modeling Profession
If anyone says they are a model, watch out. It means that they are recognized as a very attractive person. If the person you are talking to says they are a model, but also has another amazing career, he or she may be too good to be true. Models are generally very busy and travel a lot. Also, it's easy enough for a scam artist to access model photos online and post as their own.
If a person’s profile has fewer than 100 friends, and more specifically, if there are photos of the person with other people but the other people aren’t tagged, be cautious. These may be pictures taken off an unsuspecting person’s profile.
Traumatic Injuries and/or Illness
We see car accidents, deaths in the family and cancer a lot in catfish scams. This is very common because the best way to avoid meeting up is by having a traumatic experience. It will make the other person say, “Oh, my God, don’t worry about meeting with me now. I will just wait until you are better.” This is a way of tugging at your heartstrings and making you feel guilty. "Sympathy is an incredibly strong emotion," Nev says.
If a person can’t immediately send you pictures of themselves in this day and age, then you should proceed with caution. "You've got to expect and require them to show you to some degree that this is who they are," he says.
If a person cannot get to a webcam after repeated requests and attempts, then this is an early potential warning sign that they are trying to avoid you seeing who they really are.
If you believe you've been the victim of an Internet scam, go to the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center for more information.