In the last decade, online dating has gone up from three percent to six percent. Online dating begat catfishing.
According to Urban Dictionary, the term "catfishing" means:
The phenomenon of internet predators that fabricate online identities and entire social circles to trick people into emotional/romantic relationships (over a long period of time.)
The term was coined by the 2010 documentary, "Catfish," and soon a television series followed.
One study shows that one out of every ten dating profiles are fake, but are mostly attributed to hackers, not catfishers.
There are four commonly-found motivations for catfishing, and those are revenge, loneliness, curiosity, and boredom. In other words, they do it for no good reason whatsoever.
They also tend to exhibit similar traits and characteristics, including, but not limited to:
History of abuse or victimization,
Unloved or rejected demeanor,
Low self-esteem, or
Catfishers are most commonly found on four platforms: dating sites, social media sites, instant messaging/chat apps, and social meeting sites/apps. There they are able to fabricate an entire life and friend group to throw any potential victims off.
There are ways in which you can learn to identify catfishers and scammers alike. They are simple, but effective at weeding out the fake people on the internet.
Do they seem as if they are just too good to be true? They more than likely are.
Do they have flashy or glamorous, cushy professions?
Check for any and all social media for photos, comments, retweets, or any other type of personal activity, etc. Did you know you can often find out to whom a number belongs by typing the number into Facebook or Google?
They often have very dramatic reasons for not meeting up as planned, and keep you on the hook by promising that you will meet them later.
They refuse (or it's very difficult) to send pics or video chat with you. A vast majority of people online are doing so on their smartphones.
Speaking from personal experience, being catfished isn't fun, even though I figured out my particular situation within the span of a few hours, no harm done. My case was a very mild one. There are very extreme cases far worse than mine. I was able to figure out the catfisher's name by following the steps provided above.
Keep those tips in mind while surfing the internet and talking to strangers, and you should be alright and catfisher-free!