I’d never heard of the term until I watched a TV programme about it. If you don’t know what it is either, here’s the Wiki definition.
Catfishing is a type of deceptive activity where a person creates a sock puppet social networking presence, or fake identity on a social network account, usually targeting a specific victim for abuse, deception, or fraud. Catfishing is often employed for romance scams on dating websites.
Another term is “Love Bombing-” a slighter milder version of the same, by which someone attempts to influence an individual by demonstrations of attention and false affection.
Whatever it’s called, it’s scamming at its worst because it not only targets the wallet but more destructively, the heart. Scammers trawl the internet looking for the most vulnerable. Widows, divorcees, singles and even lonely marrieds who are desperate to find someone to show them some affection.
Fake profiles are posted on dating sites by stealing pictures of attractive, star-like individuals and adding them to their outrageous claims of being wealthy business people, lonely men in the military, devoted fathers who need money for a child’s operation and so it goes on. They can hook you via social media – I’ve had dozens of Direct Messages on Twitter – via your email or website, Tinder and even Skype and it’s easy to get taken in if you’ve got a soft heart.
When researching for my new novel, LOVE BYTES BACK, I was shocked to discover that procuring someone else’s picture for your personal profile is not illegal! What is illegal if that is used to scam people out of money. Sorry, but that seems very muddled to me.
How do you know if you’re talking to a love scammer and how can you protect yourself?
- Ask them to call you on the phone. If they make excuses, they are probably not who they say they are. DUMP.
- If they want to move the chat off the dating site and onto something like WhatsApp, be very suspicious. They want to avoid the dating site getting wise to their scam.
- Their profile is too good to be true.
- They ask for small amounts of money to start with – phone top ups and promise to pay it back. They often ask for Amazon gift cards and not direct bank transfers. SAY NO and DUMP.
- Many scams are operating from overseas. Workers are paid a pittance to read from a badly written script. When I nearly got caught in a scam, I was called “sweaty pie” (and not sweetie pie.). Red flag warning!
- Finally, never, ever, ever, send money. Not one penny. If you think your bank account has been compromised because of something you said, report it immediately.
- Contact Action Fraud then go out and breathe a sigh of relief. You didn’t get catfished.
Find out what happens to Kitty Merriweather when she meets the charming Harvey online in Love Bytes Back. Just £1.99 ebook.
OUT FEBRUARY 14th –on Amazon Kindle