It is almost that time of the year when people are celebrating being in love. And those who aren’t are hopping onto the internet to hopefully meet someone they can have a great time with. That all seems well and harmless, doesn’t it? But you know me… instead of playing baby cupid, I’m going to play the devil’s advocate and let you in on a little something, something. February is also the biggest catfish season. Which means that perfect mate that you met online? They’re probably not all that they seem.
Catfishing at a Glance
If you don’t remember what catfishing means, let me get you up to speed. A catfish is a person who goes on the internet with a false identity to attract a romantic interest. The “catfish” can be
- Using a fake photo
- Using a fake name
- Using an imagined name/identity
- Using a stolen name/identity
The person being lied to is then said to have been “catfished”.
The Bizarre Ruth Palmer Case
Now you probably think this isn’t that big of a deal. Anonymity is a great part of the internet. But a catfish isn’t usually anonymous. A catfish is lying about who they are. They assume a personality to make themselves more appealing to their online romantic interest. They make up stories about an exciting life they do not lead. We haven’t forgotten the really bizarre Ruth Palmer case. At the receiving end of this fraud was a man called Justin who found himself falling in love with someone called Leah Palmer. Trouble was, the “Leah Palmer” in pictures was not her at all. “Leah Palmer” had stolen the pictures (and thus the identity) of a woman called Ruth Palmer to talk to and get closer to Justin.
It’s a heartbreaking story once you get over the utter absurdity of it all.
Avoiding Catfish on V-Day
Here’s what you can do to make sure you are not being catfished this Valentine’s Day.
- Try and speak with them once over the phone or on Skype. Skype is preferred for obvious reasons.
- Do not give away credit card information to them.
- If you do decide to meet, do so in a public place.
- People who travel a lot, have modeling as their careers, or live highly exciting lives in general are probably catfishes
- Do not click on weird links you get from them.
Most of all, try and get on a reliable dating app or website if you actually want to end up with a person and not a bot. Unless you’re into that, in which case, we don’t judge.