1. They don’t have many followers or friends
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If someone is reaching out to you on social media that you don’t know, make sure you check how many friends or followers they have straight away. If they don’t have many people on their friends or follow list, it might be a sign of a bot or imposter account. Make sure you block and report them straight away.
2. They avoid video calls
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If you’re dealing with a catfish, they’ll do everything they can to protect their true identity. This means that they won’t want to video call, and even if they do, they won’t show their face or turn their camera off. If someone you’re speaking to keeps giving you excuses about video calls, it’s a serious red flag.
3. They have no online presence on other platforms
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Not everyone will have multiple platforms on the internet, and that’s fine. But if you start to get suspicious about being catfished, run a quick Google search and see what the internet spits out. For example, if someone claims they’re a wealthy businessman, it’s really unlikely that they won’t have a website for their business or a personal/professional LinkedIn page, so be on your guard.
4. Those “professional” pictures
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It’s all too easy to pull some professional-looking pictures on the internet these days- and a LOT of catfishers use them. If someone only has stock images on their profile (meaning no photos taken by family or friends, or selfies) it’s likely that they’re just using other people’s photos to create a fake profile or account.
5. Stolen photos
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Stolen photos are an even worse sign that stock images, as it’s clear someone has malicious intent. Many people that use stolen photos are trying to pull off a scam, but thankfully, there are ways you can check the legitimacy of these photos. Just go to Google Images and click on the little camera icon – this will let you upload a picture or paste a picture’s URL.
6. Requests for cash
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This is probably THE biggest red flag for catfishing. If someone online is asking you to send them some money, do not engage with them (and obviously don’t send them any cash!). They might come up with a really convincing story, but be honest with yourself- how likely is it that you would ask someone you just met online for money, especially if you were possibly going to have a relationship with them?
7. Asking for explicit photos or videos
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Another massive red flag is someone asking for questionable photos and videos. Do not provide them with any- instead, block and report them immediately. Some people that catfish combine this with another cybercrime crime called sextortion, where people obtain sensitive images of you and use them as leverage to extort cash from you.
8. They come on VERY strong
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It’s quite common for catfish to come on really strong- and this is because they want to reel you in quickly and move on to the next victim. After just a handful of chats, they might start telling you that they’ve fallen in love with you, or they want to spend their life with you. If it sounds too good to be true, it most definitely is!
9. Their stories are OTT
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When a random person online starts trying to tell you wild stories about their past relationships, travel adventures or huge sums of wealth, be on your guard. Why would a stranger try and impress you, or big themselves up? Be sure to ask them plenty of questions to see if their stories hold up, and run a few Google searches while you’re doing it.
10. Their account is fairly new
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If someone pops up on social media and starts messaging you out of the blue, be sure to check when their account was created. If it’s fairly new, tread carefully. Lots of spam and bot accounts pop up all the time, and they won’t usually have any mutual followers in common. If you’re suspicious, report and block the account.
11. Your friends get suspicious
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It can actually be a lot easier to be outside looking in, so if your friends are starting to get suspicious about your new online pal, listen to them! Your friends know you well, and will have your best interests at heart. Let them check your new online pal out and get their honest opinion on the situation.
12. Your gut feeling is off
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You should always trust your gut instinct- no matter what. So if you’re getting a weird feeling about someone online, make sure you squash your relationship with them asap. If you need concrete proof that the person you’re talking to isn’t who they say they are, look up their profile on socialcatfish.com, which can provide you with all the info you need.
13. Check their grammar
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This is a really subtle one. Sometimes, catfish claim they’re from English-speaking countries, but if it’s clear they’re struggling to write in coherent sentences, don’t be afraid to dig a little deeper and ask them some questions. If the catfish feels like you’re on to them, they typically shut all forms of communication down with you straight away.
14. They message you all the time
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Once a catfish has got a victim in their sights, they won’t let go unless they have to. Scammers will usually message their targets all the time, and the conversation will move pretty fast. If they always seem to be online and sending messages to you at all hours of the day, be cautious, and block them if you have to.
15. They want you to share personal information
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If a catfish is trying to get the measure of you, they’ll be sure to ask you a LOT of questions about yourself. More specifically, they’ll try and ask you personal questions, which will help them gain access to your bank account or email. Don’t give them any answers to these questions- instead, ask them about themselves, and why they need to know so much about you.
16. They never, ever want to meet in person
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If you’re in the middle of a catfish experience, you’ll find that your new online ‘friend’ never, ever wants to meet up with you in real life. So ask yourself a question- why would someone who claims to like me so much never want to see me face to face? Chances are, they’re not actually interested in you at all.
17. You start to notice gaps in their stories
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If they’re insisting on telling you more and more elaborate anecdotes, you’ll probably start to notice some gaps in their stories. When you catch them in those rare, unguarded moments, they may end up giving you different details to something that doesn’t quite match up with what they’ve said before.
18. Their profile details may differ from the information they’ve given you
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When you’re dealing with a catfish, you may find that their profile details might not match up with what they’re telling you in your conversations. And you may discover this the more you engage with them! The catfish might slip up and end up giving you some nuggets of truth here and there, so be sure to do some research on them.
19. They won’t talk with you on the phone
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One key red flag of being catfished is when your online ‘friend’ refuses to talk to you on the phone. Many of them choose to just be keyboard warriors instead, because their voice is a very clear indicator that they’re not who they say they are. However, a few expert catfishers will still talk to you over the phone to make themselves more convincing, so tread carefully.
20. They’re ridiculously good looking
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We’re not saying that someone super good-looking wouldn’t be interested in you- far from it! Catfishers generally try and make themselves look a LOT better than they are to try and reel you in. And let’s be honest- if they were that good-looking in real life, why would they constantly hide their face from you?
21. They don’t interact with other people online
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If you suspect you’re being catfished, it’s a good idea to go through their social media profile in more detail. Do they interact with other people other than you? And if they DO interact with others, are they actual, real-life people, or fake accounts? Do some digging with your friends and see what you can find out.
22. The conversation always comes back to money
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Even if they specifically haven’t asked for money (yet), they may subtly try and turn your conversations around to money and wealth on a regular basis. Perhaps they’ve told you a sad story about how they’re in financial difficulties, or they’re telling you about all the things they want to buy you. If so, stay on high alert.
23. They never send you an in-the-moment selfie
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Sometimes in life, you’ve just got to take an in-the-moment selfie and share it with your favorite people. And if this is never, ever reciprocated with your new online friend, you need to start asking yourself why. Is it because they’re at work or busy with family, or are they not actually who they say they are?
24. Their reasons for not meeting you become more and more elaborate
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When it comes to meeting up in the real world, you’ll find that every excuse in the book will be thrown at you at some point. Your catfisher might give you everything from an emergency room drama to a car accident or family issue. Basically anything that will gain sympathy, which will divert your attention away from the fact they can’t meet up.
25. Their photos show up in a reverse Google Image search
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If you’ve ever watched Catfish before, you’ll know that one of the biggest weapons the team have against dodgy internet users is Google image search. Drag the images they’ve sent you (or the ones on their profile) into the search bar and see if they appear anywhere else on the internet. This could be all the proof you need that your new online pal is a catfish.
26. You’ve searched their name on the internet and it seems they don’t exist
Whether we like it or not, nearly EVERYONE has made their own tiny dent into the online world these days. So if you’re searching their name and absolutely nothing comes up, it should start raising serious alarm bells. The same goes if you search their name, and photos of another person start popping up on your browser.
27. They want to quickly move off an app and get your number
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If your new online friend wants to move fairly quickly off a dating app and slide straight into your phonebook, tread with caution, as it could be a warning sign of some sketchy behavior. Some people have been known to try and solicit explicit photos for blackmail, and most dating apps don’t allow you to send photos for your own security.
28. They bombard you with compliments
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As an FYI, we don’t want you to think that you’re not worthy of compliments, because you absolutely are! But we all know when someone is trying to keep us sweet, and constant compliments on our looks and achievements are a tell-tale sign. They want to try and make you feel special so that you become easier to exploit…
29. You’ve met them on a free internet dating site
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They say the best things in life are free- but some of them come with a catch. If you’re using a free internet dating site as opposed to a paid version, bear in mind that there will be people lurking there that will want to take advantage. Paid sites are less of a target for catfish, as they have to cough up money up front to try and scam someone.
30. They want you to keep your relationship a secret
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One of the BIG signs of a catfish is their secrecy. Chances are, they won’t want you to shout about your ‘relationship’, as it will increase the likelihood of them being rumbled. They will want you to keep things to yourself, so make sure you do the opposite and tell your friends and family all about them!