What is Catfishing? Don't Get Fooled Ever Again!
So, you’ve met someone cute online — and they’re everything you’ve ever wanted. You finally meet for the first time, and there’s a whole other person standing next to you. Or worse (and perhaps, more confusing) — they keep delaying your first-time meetup, constantly canceling or rescheduling the date. It’s called catfishing — creating a fake persona to build an online connection. Most of the time, catfishing refers to one’s looks, but it isn’t limited to appearance. Let’s figure out why we fall for this behavior and what makes it different from good old scamming.
Getting to the bottom
Catfishing refers to creating a fake virtual persona or impersonating someone under a different name, Catfishing comes in all shapes and forms, but the context is the same: the person you’re talking to is not who they present themselves to be. If you've been talking to someone for a while and they refuse to video chat, they might be a catfish. So, the girl you’re enthusiastically talking to might actually be a 40-something man. Or a teenager. Are you sure that is not a picture of a Will Smith? Or Harry Styles?
A catfish, unlike a scammer, isn’t looking for financial profit from presenting themselves as someone else. Boredom, insecurity, the need to get attention and avalidation, and self-importance all come into play here. It’s an act in the name of the act itself, something seemingly innocent that may actually become a traumatic experience for the victim getting catfished.
A catfish creates a persona that is usually better-looking, more interesting, richer, younger (or older) than they really are
A catfish may present as a different gender. This is a popular technique for spying on a former or current partner or simply entertaining someone by playing with gender fluidity. In this case, the catfish may use photos of their friend or acquaintance. What is the psychology behind being a catfish?
A lot of the time, the fake persona is created scrupulously, with great attention to detail: this is done to prevent the victim’s suspicion during the talking stage. Maneuvers like using data and photos of someone from another country or a friend are common — you know, something you can’t easily search via Google images.
However, in most cases, a catfish creates a persona that is usually better-looking, more interesting, richer, younger, or older than they actually are. The pictures used are hardly ever average. The confidence here is understandable: people wouldn’t assume that someone can try so hard to create a false identity. Why put so much effort into something like this, right?
A catfish is not an ordinary person, but rather an obsessive one. Their mental state might even be somewhat disturbed for various reasons. For instance, a single mom with kids looking for an outlet to feel free, or a guy with low self-esteem seeking virtual intimacy. Often, people using catfishing techniques are teenagers trying to connect with people online and explore — perhaps in a twisted way. A mentally unhealthy person needs a victim for emotional manipulation — and the victim never knows who’s behind pretty photos. Regardless of the motive, the situation traumatizes the victim and potentially threatens their well-being.
Some catfishing facts
- If a person is faking only a part of their persona (let’s say, just the photos, and the rest of the information actually belongs to them) it’s sometimes referred to as kittenfishing.
- 67% of married men lie about being single on dating apps and services.
- On average, a person lies at least 5 times a day. This is an evolutionary trait and has to do with our survival instinct.
- 83 million Facebook accounts are proven to be fake.
How technology made it easier
Digital progress has paradoxically made communication even less secure than it once was — we can no longer believe anything we see or read. Do phone or video calls seem like an easy way to filter out the scammers? Well, not anymore. Before the invention of voice imitators, masks, and filters, this was the case. But now… Voice Changer is a thing. There are various voice-changing apps! As for the video, remember that story of Japanese motorcycle blogger Yasuko who turned out to be a 50-year-old man? And the “character” was doing live broadcasts! Now TikTok has a new phenomenon: people are impersonating celebrities in real-time via deep fakes — anyone from Putin to DiCaprio and Tom Cruise. Modern deep fakes are no longer a filter that flies off your face when you blink, but a full-fledged professional visual — and can be created and used by an amateur, too. All that knowledge is just a search away.
So, how do we identify a catfish?
- Look for their active social media, and try multiple apps. If they have none, or the accounts are empty — that’s already a red flag.
- Look for a mismatch in the information they’re giving you — pay attention to detail. Anything seems off?
- Analyze the pictures they’re sending you. Are they “too polished”? Or the opposite — blurry and unclear? A false identity can be very well thought-out, but there are only so many photos one can steal.
- Have a video call on Pure — our system makes it impossible to manipulate what you’re seeing.
- Most importantly (though, perhaps, not always possible): schedule a real-life date. That’s the only 100% way to be sure.
Catfishes and other scammers often try to lure the victim out of a dating app by asking to switch to a different messenger/app. We strongly recommend you not to do it. Luckily, on Pure you can use video chats, audio messages, and receive photos with a confirmed identity — no need to go elsewhere.