Okay, so you’ve been catfished. They were someone else online, and turned out different in reality. But they soon come to love you! Now what?
This documented dialogue is an informative insight to a current phenomenon taking place in our dating-online spaces (primarily on applications such as, Tinder, Zoosk, Hinge, ect..). Catfishing is not that old, since it has become popular form of online scam thanks to the certain online spaces, which have been created in the last two decades or so. But now more than ever, we have these scammers online searching for their victims. Many times, their primary intentions are related to money, while other times to more personal or for time-kicker (also know as: a to waste time). But regardless of their intentions, one thing still remains the same about this scam: it emotionally plays with another person, and sometimes it can cause them great psychological damage. And yet, even among the many stories of catfishing ending ugly, there are cases good things happen from it. The sounds of might bring chills down your spine, but just keep in mind that even the coldest of people can have a warm side sometimes. And so, this work covers many or most of the elements highlighted on this introduction.
*********************************************THE CATFISH TALK********************************************
KAREL: Hi Jane!
JANE: Hi Karel, what will we be talking about today?
KAREL: Well, there is this issue, relating online spaces, that’s been on my mind in the past couple of weeks.
JANE: And what issue is this?
KAREL: There is a new phenomenon that has developed online over that past couple of years. I’m referring to something called “catfishing” online. Did you hear about it, or are you familiar with it, Jane?
JANE: Oh yes, I’ve heard about it. It’s a popular scam that is now common in the dating world, primarily in online spaces.
KAREL: This appears to be the case. I didn’t know much about it to be honest, until recently for personal interest.
JANE: I see, Karel! Maybe I can help you learn more about it and help you at the end with some advice.
KAREL: Yes, that would be wonderful! Anything will help. I’ll honestly say I have been trying to learn about the term, but I wouldn’t mind interchanging knowledge with you on the subject.
JANE: So, we can start by talking a bit about what this is.
KAREL: Yes, of course! I like how the article defines it as: “Catfishing’ refers to a scam where someone, the ‘catfish,’ creates a fictitious online identity and seeks out online relationships. These are frequently romantic relationships, and online dating websites and cell phone dating apps are fertile hunting ground for catfish. However, there are also catfish who seek out friendships and other forms of social contact.”
JANE: So, the simplest description of it is that it is: an online scam where a person (catfisher) tries to deceive their victim for financial or emotional purposes, while initially having no intention of actually caring or developing feeling for the victim. They create a fake character online and play with their victims’ emotions or budget.
KAREL: Yes, that’s what I’ve heard. It’s sad to know there are people out there that would do this.
JANE: And it is a billion-dollar online scam (as of 2019), where victims are left both emotionally and financial damaged. Just check this article, which gives you a more concise amount of money-losses by this scam:
KAREL: “A reported amount of $230 million”, as losses from victims is a large sum for sure! And I’m guessing these people are not only located in the U.S., since it is all happening online.
JANE: Correct! Catfishers can be pretty much anyone from anywhere, who is using the internet to hunt a target. They also steal identities from other people online to create fake identities.
KAREL: This makes it harder for them to be caught, since it’s happening all online.
JANE: That’s true! And is possibly the reason to why victims of catfishing don’t always report to the police, since there’s not much that can be done.
KAREL: I get it must be hard for many victims to even know if the person on the other side (when chatting online) is real or not. And obviously even harder for those who have no idea this is happening.
JANE: That’s the scary part about it, both if you are not aware of it, or if you can’t tell if the person you are talking to online is real or fake.
KAREL: According to this article, there are 10 steps you can follow to detect a catfisher online:
JANE: Pretty descriptive article here; especially if you want some “common-sense” information on how to spot them online.
KAREL: Yes. These are very obvious, but it makes sense. Just think of about it and it will click in your head. Why would a stranger online have no photos or videos, never agree to video chat or voice chat, is demanding for you money for help, and constantly says everything you want to hear?
JANE: Yes, and another thing that also give it away from them being a catfisher is their presented image online and terrible grammatical skills. Let’s just think about it. What is one of the best ways to get the attention of someone online, who has no way of seeing you physically? Well, one way is with their image or pictures. Mostly likely, they will put online pictures of themselves (although they may be fake) that are super attractive. This article I was reading gives you some good pointers on this.
KAREL: Oh yes, and their grammar when writing you messages seems like a good clue too. I can see this being the case with those scammers who are from overseas, or people who have not gotten enough education.
JANE: Good point there, Karel.
KAREL: I personally have seen this being the case on dating applications. Especially on phone applications, such as Zoosk (Ctrl + Click, for Hyperlink) or Tinder.
JANE: I imagine this “25% of scam reported on Zoosk” must be just the minimum number, not including the people who don’t report to the application customer service team because of embarrassment or other means.
KAREL: Well, you can always expect the numbers to be much higher for the reasons you’ve mentioned, Jane. Not everyone has the courage to share such an experience with other people, especially if they were victims themselves.
JANE: I would see that being a good reason not too.
KAREL: I say this because I recently found myself to be part of the same scam online, but on another dating application.
JANE: Really? Please share more! What application was it?
KAREL: It was on Tinder, the other application I mentioned earlier which is similar to Zoosk in some ways. The sad part about it, is that new users are normally fooled thinking this application is safer because it is part of the list of applications found on the ‘Apps Store’ on your phone. But security and safety come at different levels, when it comes to digital spaces.
JANE: Sounds like the perfect type of application for really scamming people, since they will least expect it.
KAREL: Exactly what I came to learn. I say this application has a more secured vibe to it, due to the way registration works, and setting up your account, in addition to finding matches.
JANE: Oh… tell me more. How does it work?
KAREL: Well, the registration alone can be time consuming to finish. You are asked for a lot of personal information: email, phone number, age, location, and much more. If you’re phone number is not valid or your email, you won’t even be able to complete the process. You can look at an example for registration process here:
JANE: I see… but it looks just like any other simple registration process for an app.
KAREL: Trust me, it feels as if it tries harder to be saver against scammers.
JANE: Yes I see. Everything you enter must be verified.
KAREL: And even after you manage to bypass this part of the registration. There is another step which is the requirement for uploading pictures of you to the application. The sense of variety of pictures of you, I guess, is meant to show that the account has more credibility.
JANE: But still, you have scammers on this application.
KAREL: Right! It shows that even when being cautious (the application), you can’t fully prevent certain events.
JANE: So, we know there’s a lot of the bad things associated with this topic of catfishing, and that there is very little or no positives to it. This brings us to an important question: Can catfishers fall in love or develop feelings for the person they are trying to deceive? What do you think, Karel?
KAREL: That’s a pretty interesting question. I think is very possible. After all, even catfishers are human beings just like you and me. But it all depends on the victim’s reaction, after discovering the truth. This is probably the moment that can either let the relationship blossom, or shrivel.
JANE: Yes, that’s true but I can’t seem to accept a possible outcome. It’s probably because the person catfishing is more interesting in the material benefits from scamming the victim, than in the emotional gains.
KAREL: Well, looking at this story I found, about a catfisher (Alan) who ended up meeting with their victim (Emma) after the truth was exposed, really give you a good example of how the reaction of the victim changes everything from this point on. Although Alan did not fool Emma for money gains, he still played with her emotionally as he felt lonely and insecure to trying a real-life relationship. And Emma was just to open to trying a new relationship online.
JANE: So I guess this story goes more on my favor: that it is very hard for such stories to blossom with love, since the emotional trauma is too strong to bare for the victims.
KAREL: Yes, this was a good case where love between the scammer and the victim is the last possible outcome. I could actually see many other cases being the same. But I still think that things can be different, if the victim’s reaction to the experience is different.
JANE: Alan should have been honest with her from the beginning.
KAREL: But then it would have ended right there at that moment. Remember that Emma felt an instant attraction for Alan based on the pictures of Adem he posted online and shared with her. In other words, she was very attracted to the physical characteristics of the person she saw pictures from.
JANE: Either way, she did not end with Alan, and still ended up with the man she felt attracted to.
KAREL: I still think things could have turned out different if she had reacted in another manner. So what advice you would give to anyone on catfishing, Jane?
JANE: Well, the advice I can give others, and you, on catfishing would be related to the various things we’ve learned today. And If I had to number them, I would do so in the following order (steps to follow):
 Despite the fact that online is fast and easy to do, doesn’t mean you should be too focused on it. It’s arguably more safe and convenient to try dating on real-live settings, where you get to instantly interact with those people around you. This is the best way to avoid being scammed.
 Don’t trust everyone online! Remember that you don’t know who is the person on the other side; especially on dating applications. Take their words with great caution.
 If the person you are talking to online doesn’t want do video or voice chat (ever!), then this is more than a clue they are not who they say they are.
 Be private about yourself online. Don’t be too open online because that can bring consequences. This is especially true if you are being scammed. In such case, never send a stranger any money, give them your personal information, or your credit card numbers.
KAREL: Wow, Jane… these are some good tips and advice! I personally will keep all of this information in mind from now on. Not only will should I keep this in mind for online-dating applications, but also for other online platforms, since it still applies.
JANE: I’m glad we covered this topic on catfishing (especially on dating online). I have a feeling we both learned a lot from all this.
KAREL: Yes! Thank you for the articles too. They were very informative on the topic and I learned very much.
JANE: You too, Karel. Thank you! I think what drove the conversation this far was how interesting we found this topic.
Great thanks to Jane Kitten
Jane is an alchemist who is passionate about dating in online and social spaces; especially those such as Facebook, Twitter, Hinge, Tinder, and Zoosk). She maintains regular activities in these online spaces to not only keep aware of any current phenomenon happening in the internet, but also to build social networks with people who are passionate about things f her interest. She likes trying out dating applications, surfing the web for news on catfishing, and posting argumentative tweets on twitter. You can follow her at the links below (Twitter, Hypothes, and Google Docs):
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