Many individuals are now aware of the risks associated with catfishing. And yet, if you’re not vigilant, it’s still very simple to become a victim of fraudsters. Catfishing is more common and ubiquitous than ever, especially in the age of social media and online dating. A 2020 study with over 900 participants found that over one in four women said they had fallen victim to a catfishing operation.
Why are so many of us still a target of these con games, and how can we defend ourselves?
What is Catfishing?
Not just the fish have whiskers, though. The use of a phony online identity is known as “catfishing,” an extreme form of dating fraud. “Catfishing” frequently entails the establishment of a completely fictitious character or identity. These scams frequently occur in the realm of online dating, when individuals pretend to be someone else to a possible romantic partner without ever intending to meet in person. The following are just a few of the various reasons that someone could catfish someone else, according to WebMD:
- To scam an individual for financial gain
- Targeted revenge
- Targeted harassment
- To explore their sexuality or gender identity
- As a result of poor self-esteem, depression, anxiety, or another mental health issue
The 2010 American documentary Catfish, which chronicles executive producer Nev Schulman and his personal experience being catfished online by a 40-year-old housewife posing as a 19-year-old female, is credited with popularizing the word “catfishing.”