What Is Catfishing and How To Avoid It

Rita

Last Updated: September 26, 2022

Even if you know the basics of keeping yourself safe online, the fact is, that you may still be vulnerable to catfishing. This pervasive scam can sometimes be quite sophisticated and difficult to spot. So it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with some of the red flags that suggest you might be talking to someone who isn’t who they say they are.

In this article, we’re going to talk about what catfishing is and how to protect yourself from it. That way, you can spend more time chatting with people who may become your perfect sugar partner!

What is catfishing?

Catfishing is a way for someone to create an online persona that is different from who they really are. They may use information and pictures from another person to add legitimacy to their fictionalized persona. And some catfishers will create additional online profiles, such as made-up friends and family members, to populate their main persona’s personal world.

Why do people engage in catfishing

Understanding why a person may choose to catfish can help you better protect yourself against deception. Here are a few of the common reasons why catfishing is appealing to some people:

Money scams.

In the world of sugaring, catfishing and money scams go hand-in-hand. Catfishers in our community know that they can reap certain benefits by deceiving a potential sugar baby or sugar daddy.

Self-worth.

In interviews with self-identified catfishers, many reported feelings of loneliness and low self-esteem. Creating an online persona with attractive pictures and a different personality gave catfishers the chance to enjoy a false version of themselves and gain popularity.

Revenge or extortion.

Some catfishers will create an online profile as a way to seek revenge against someone or extort them for money or other ends. They may solicit information or photos that can then be used against the person that they’ve catfished.

Power.

While rare, catfishers will sometimes deceive a stranger out of a desire for power and control.

As you can see, there are many reasons why someone would be compelled to catfish. But no matter the explanation, there are a few ways that you can protect yourself.

What are some of the signs of catfishing?

Scammers can utilize a range of sophisticated techniques to appear real online. Here are a few signs that you may not be talking to a genuine person:

Their profile pictures are just a little too polished.

Catfishers may use professionally-taken stock photos that they’ve pulled from the internet. This will give their profile an oddly polished look.

They don’t post new pictures of themselves.

There are only so many stock photos that someone can find of the same person. So, they may not send you selfies or any current photos of themselves.

They will talk via messenger, texting, or phone calls but never video.

Catfishers often have a variety of excuses as to why they can’t videocall. Maybe they say that the connection isn’t good where they are or that their camera is broken.

They always have an excuse as to why they can’t meet in person.

Just as they refuse to have a videocall, a catfisher will offer many reasons to delay meeting you in person. They may say that they have car troubles or a hectic work schedule. When pressed, they may even schedule a meet & greet with you only to cancel at the last minute with an unexpected emergency.

There are holes or contradictions in their stories, especially when it comes to details about their personal life.

Creating a believable fictional life is difficult, and many people struggle to keep details straight over a long period of time. If things aren’t adding up, don’t write it off or let the person on the other end of your online relationship gaslight you. This could be a sign of catfishing.

They ask for money.

A catfisher looking for money will do so after they’ve built some trust with you. Be on the lookout for elaborate stories about why they need the money, such as a family health scare or other urgent situations.

They ask you to do favors for them.

Sometimes money scammers will ask for favors that don’t initially sound nefarious. Some, for instance, may ask you to make a donation for them or send a gift card to a third person because they’re unable to do so themselves or claim to want to remain anonymous. Unfortunately, a person may fall for this scam since there’s no direct request for money. In fact, the catfisher may send a check or cash app payment ahead of time to add legitimacy to the situation. But, once your money is gone, you may realize that the catfisher’s payment never goes through.

They demand explicit photos.

There’s nothing wrong with a little online fun in the form of photos and texts between you and your sugar baby or sugar daddy. But, if you’re not careful, a catfisher can use these photos to extort you. If a sugar partner asks you repeatedly for photos—especially without being willing to send any—be aware that this could be a catfishing technique.

The reality is, catfishing doesn’t just take one form. Catfishers are always learning new techniques as technology advances and their targets get smarter about online safety. That’s why, if something doesn’t feel right about how a person is treating you, don’t ignore it. You could be picking up on a catfishing red flag that we haven’t covered here.

How can you prevent yourself from being catfished?

One thing is to know the signs of catfishing, but how can you stop a catfisher in their tracks? Try these techniques:

Conduct a reverse image search.

A reverse image search will let you know if a profile has pulled images from other places on the internet.

Ask for a video chat as soon as possible.

In this day and age, everyone should be able to provide video confirmation of their identity. So, don’t feel bad about asking for a videocall as soon as possible.

Don’t wait too long to schedule an in-person meet & greet.

As soon as you feel comfortable meeting someone in person, schedule a date! This will prevent you from spending too much time building a connection with someone you can’t absolutely confirm is a real person.

Don’t send gifts before you’ve met in person.

If you’re a sugar daddy, you might be tempted to start pampering your partner with gifts. But, we would suggest that you wait until you’re sure you're not being catfished.

Never share personal information.

Even if you’ve confirmed that the person you’re talking to is genuine, it’s still a good practice to protect your personal information. A partner should never have access to your login information or sensitive details like your social security number.

Learn how to practice safe texting.

Many sugar relationships include an element of flirty messaging. And luckily, there is a way for you to practice safe texting if you choose to do so. You can, for example, take photos that don’t include your face or any identifying features like tattoos or birthmarks. You can also remove location tags from your photos to further conceal your identity. Even with these safety measures in place, it’s still a good idea to wait until after you’ve met someone and built some trust before engaging in this form of texting.

Get comfortable with saying no.

Having strong boundaries is your best defense against being catfished. An online scammer will quickly move on from anyone that they feel can’t be swayed, so don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself and say no when you feel pressured.

What should you do if you think you’re being catfished?

Now that you can identify some of the signs of catfishing, what should you do when you suspect that someone is trying to scam you? Follow these steps:

Stop all communication.

Catfishers can be highly persuasive, which is why it’s important to halt communication immediately. You may also want to block this person, as they may attempt to increase the pressure as they feel you pull away.

Report it to the website.

One of the benefits of meeting sugar partners on official websites like SugarDaddy.com is that you have a team to help you navigate potential catfishing. Always report profiles with red flags so that we can do a thorough investigation and prevent the catfisher from targeting someone else.

Don’t blame yourself.

As we mentioned before, catfishing can be a sophisticated scam. So although there are ways to protect yourself from this online scam, you shouldn’t feel guilty if you fell victim to a catfisher. Give yourself time to grieve the loss of the relationship or connection. Let go of feelings of shame. And when you’re ready, get back out there.

Now that you’re more familiar with the warning signs of catfishing, you’re in a much better position to find the genuine sugar partner you deserve!

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