What is catfishing? All you need to know to stay safe

what is catfishing and how to spot one

Whether you’re shooting your shot on dating apps or sharing a laugh on social media, we’ve come to rely on screens to navigate our relationships. While it has become easier to connect  with each other online, we’re now exposed to millions of strangers who are hidden from sight. On dating platforms, where verifying people is a matter of personal safety, unchecked access has resulted in countless victims of what is known as “catfishing”.

Catfishing is deceiving others online by presenting a false identity. Common examples include using fake profiles, incorrect photos, or highly exaggerated lies about physical or personality traits.

The targeted victim may end up feeling duped when their first date turns up much different than expected. In worse cases, they lose their life savings or place themselves in physical danger by not knowing who they are scheduled to meet.

Why do people catfish?

Financial gain, mental illness and fear of judgement all contribute to why people catfish. Here are a few of the most common reasons:

Insecurity – People often feel they won’t be liked for who they are so alter their profile to appear as a better version of themselves.

Revenge – Ex-partners or unhinged daters may woo you with a fake identity and then break your heart in an attempt to “have the last laugh”.

Sexual exploration – Some people are just curious and want to explore LGBTQ dating without revealing themselves.

Money – Criminals make hundreds of millions from romance fraud every year charming their way into the wallets of unsuspecting singles.

Shame – Dating is a lot of pressure, particularly if you’re inexperienced. Some choose to shield themselves from public embarrassment.

How to spot a catfish

Spotting catfish can make soul searching feel more like an interrogation process. Most dating platforms don’t require real ID verification so you’re left to screen everyone’s true identity yourself (big mood killer). To make sure you’re talking to a real person, look out for these red flags when dating online:

  • They only have one profile picture
  • They screenshot every photo from social media
  • They only use group photos
  •  They advertise goods or services
  • They escalate things too quickly
  • They fabricate a story to request money
  • They avoid video calls or meeting up
  • They seem too good to be true
  • They keep probing for intimate/personal details

How to Avoid Being Catfished

Use a dating app like Fluttr where ID verification is required. While catfishing is not illegal, it’s often used for crime. Any fraud and other serious incidents on the app can be traced back to a real person, which also deters criminals from joining in the first place.

When using other dating apps, the warning signs we mentioned earlier will help you avoid matching with sus profiles. If you ever have doubts about someone, err on the side of caution and decline. There are plenty of fish in the sea who vibe with you.

Also, when a person isn’t being authentic, their patterns of behaviour are inconsistent. Look out for canned replies, contradictions, and always jump on a video call for an introduction/pre-date.

Avoid giving away too much information. Keep texts light and fun. Save the deep talks for when you meet.

“I got catfished what do I do?”

Report and block profiles that look fake so social platforms can investigate. Contact the police immediately if they have committed a criminal offence. A good online community can prevent a lot of catfishing but never completely. For example, it’s possible for one person to create multiple accounts or rejoin if they are banned. Another benefit of ID verification is the ability to ban real life people rather than accounts.

Fluttr is a safe space with ID checks and human moderation to let you get on with the fun aspect of checking people out whilst we really check them out.


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