This is a trying time for all of us. We are all going through many emotions and are likely vulnerable at the moment. For those of us who are single and quarantined, it can be especially difficult – and there is a greater need for human connection.
All of this is understandable, and normal given the current circumstances. But please remember, there are people out there that will take advantage of these vulnerabilities. It’s time to be extra careful who we talk to and what kind of information we give them.
There are so many dating sites out there and people are spending a lot of time on them. Meeting new people, getting emotional support from strangers…and who can blame you? It’s a tough time.
So, what is ‘Catfishing’? Essentially, it’s a romancing scam. These catfishers use deception to connect with you. They use great texts and phone callschats that make you feel comfortable and at ease. They are master manipulators. In the past, catfishers would only type and talk on the phone, but these days they are getting smarter. Now video calls are part of the game, and are meant to make you feel even more at ease.
But you are smarter than that! You know that tiny feeling in your gut? The warning? Listen to it! Even if you don’t want to hear it, and you want to convince yourself that it’s not possible because you’ve seen them on video and you get along really well, listen to that nagging voice in the back of your head.
Once you have enough information, find them on social media – how active are they? Is it just enough to make you believe that they have a real life? Look at how old the pictures are and the people liking and commenting on their posts. Is it the same handful of people? Do they say they own a business? Look them up in the Division of Corporations (of wherever they live).
Another great trick? Plug the pictures they send you into Google Image search and see if they are real or what else they may be connected to.
I know this is a difficult time for all of us, but be weary of letting your guard down, because these catfishers will wait until you are totally smitten and then ask you for money. NEVER SEND ANYONE MONEY that you have met online. No matter the sob story they give you, it’s an absolute no. If it gets that far, then just cut off all ties – there is no point in telling them how hurt you are, etc, because they will use that to their advantage.
Be careful. Stay safe, stay healthy. We will get through this together.
Written by Chantal Kahale, Director of Operations, Crossroads Investigations