Spotting a Catfish

Heart on keyboard

This week I received an email from a stranger that was so disturbing that I have decided to share it in its entirety. I have removed his name “in case” the gentleman’s intentions were innocent, but I have my doubts:

“Hi Robin How’re U doing..???My name is … i like your profile On facebook, and you are looking charming and i will say life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the number of moments that take our breath away.”.I’m looking for a woman who is ready for a true love and who’s willing to be an EQUAL and BEST FRIEND. Strong chemistry is a must, but so is a ATTITUDE, TRUST, UNDERSTANDING and CONSISTENCY. who is ready to settle down and who have a love passion..Looking forward for your reply.. take care have a nice and lovely day.”

What’s so wrong with this message you ask, it seems harmless enough?

Well, let’s start with the fact that this is the standard sort of message that you might expect to receive if you had registered a profile on an online dating site. There’s just one problem … I am not registered on any dating site and I am not seeking this sort of an encounter at this point in my life. Secondly, this person references my Facebook page (so he has looked at my profile) which does not list my relationship status as “available”. Thirdly, he wrote to me using one of my work email addresses, which means I have been researched (at least a little).

So what’s the big deal? Well, look at the message itself. This person has announced he is looking for “strong chemistry” and a “love passion” without knowing one single thing about me, or in fact, asking one single thing about me; and yet he claims to be looking for a woman who is an equal and a best friend.

Ladies beware – this is nothing more than a string of words artfully woven together to lure the lonely, vulnerable and unsuspecting. If you respond to an unsolicited message like this, you are definitely taking a risk that you will be corresponding with someone who has decidedly insincere intentions.

But it gets worse.

Although the writer does have a Facebook page, which does have a photo and other basic information, in the internet age there is absolutely NO guarantee that this person even “is” the person in the photo. There is not even any guarantee that this person single, or living where he claims to be, or has the friends he claims to have. In fact there is no guarantee that this person is even a man (although in this case I do believe that the writer is male).

In the worst case scenario, this is an example of catfishing, which is defined as “Internet scammers who fabricate online identities and entire social circles to trick people into romantic relationships” for a variety of purposes ranging from the thrill of manipulation, to the extortion of money.

Catfishers are very experienced online predators and come in all shapes and sizes and ages. Be very cautious of giving your heart too quickly to someone who writes to you out of the blue and has a whole slew of reasons why you cannot meet in person or video chat with you on Skype.

And gentlemen, in case you imagine that this post does not apply to you, be aware that in the most famous example of catfishing, it was a man who was duped by a middle aged housewife.

To learn more about Catfishing and read real stories of people who have been tricked click here: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2264053/Catfishing-The-phenomenon-Internet-scammers-fabricate-online-identities-entire-social-circles-trick-people-romantic-relationships.html

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