How You Can Avoid Falling Prey to Catfishing on Social Media
#catfishing #phishing #socialmedia
Social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram have been combating fake profiles almost since the beginning of their inception. However, in the last few years there has been a newer concept of false identities called “catfishing” and for some, the results have been financially and personally devastating. Catfishing is when someone imitates your profile or someone that you know. The original concern was brought to Facebook’s attention from women’s groups that wanted to make Facebook a safer place for women. The perpetrators have honed their abilities to convince others or you that they are real and it typically doesn’t take long for them to push the relationship into either a financial request or an in-person meeting. The former can cause someone to lose all of their money while the latter could end with an assault, or worse.
While those that are trying to deceive have the knowledge and ability to understand how to infiltrate into a personal life on social media, they also have some standard tactics that they use that can be readily identifiable. Social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram have been designing algorithms to try to circumvent their attacks, but knowing some of the “signs” can help people proactively protect themselves.
Facebook Messenger is an easy way for contact. Those involved in catfishing usually send a message identifying themselves as a friend or relative and it quickly escalates into a request for money or an announcement that they want to share a method of financial gain with you. In some cases it may be a request to meet to catch up, and these can be the most dangerous conditions. Many have reported sexual assaults as a result of these requests and in some cases, police reports have indicated that they have ended up in death. Any time someone contacts you via Messenger that isn’t one of your existing “friends” require that they prove who they are. If they can’t — report them and block them.
Most involved in catfishing push the relationship very quickly. Conversations go from light to heavy and they don’t want to take “no” for answer. These individuals also use a false image or picture so if you want to make sure they are who they are, suggesting a Zoom or Skype contact is the easiest way for detection.
In a lot of cases their profile has very few friends or activity. Some involved in false identities like to create posts that are attractive to others such as donations to non-profits for kids that are sick or animals. The posts are few and often repeated.
Catfishers like to use images that are too perfect, too nice, too appealing. They also escalate conversation to a financial side fast while using an excuse that they travel all over for their job. They may use elaborate stories or tales that emphasize their condition and will make excuses as to why they can’t do a Skype or Zoom call. Always take extra precaution when anyone reaches out to you.
In the case that you have discovered that someone is impersonating you, report immediately. Social media platforms may require that you prove who you are and it will require accommodating their rules.
Originally published at https://davinciforensics.co.za on December 24, 2021.