How to catch an online Catfish (aka Catfishing)

I am sure most of you know what the term “Catfishing” means. There was an entire movie and TV show dedicated to it on MTV. But for those that may be a little bit in the dark, it means when you meet someone online, establish a relationship and then come to find out they are not who they said or advertised that they were.

Catfishing can involve relationships that have lasted for years. You might have talked only though email, text or even on the phone. With apps like Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook or anything with a messenger component this just gets easier.

Sometimes the person doing the Catfishing even goes as far as to ask for money, either directly or in the form of purchases or bill payments.

Most of the time however, the victims find out that the person they “fell in love” with is no where close to the pictures or persona that they portrayed. Sometimes, the person you are speaking with is not even the same gender they portrayed themselves to be.

If you are wondering why I am writing this blog, it is because I have even been the victim of a Catfish. Not that I have fallen head-over-heels, but in the realm of finding potential playmates you want to know that the person you are meeting is the same person you were interested in.

So, yesterday it happened again. I was catfished. However, I was able to catch the catfish fairly quickly so I wanted to give you some ideas that I use to check them out.

Easiest way, usually, to do a first check, is to ask them to send you a picture of themselves holding up a piece of paper (an actual piece of paper) with your name and something as simple as “Hello (Name)” for instance.

Of course this can be faked. After all, Photoshop is a wonderful tool. However, the person would have to be awfully good to pull that off and especially quickly. If they take a long time or say something like “Don’t you trust me?” tell them that you do and you are trusting them to do this for you. If they refuse then you have caught yourself a Catfish, regardless of their excuse.

Try to find them on other social media. There are ways to search by the usernames, email and phone number on almost all internet browsers. See what comes up on your search.

There can be exceptions, but the general rule is that most people have multiple social media sites. This doesn’t disprove that they are potentially a Catfish, but it will give more clues if they are real.

The latest Catfish in my situation only had Instagram, supposedly. He had a total of 9 photos, all of them were nicely done and he was very attractive. He also had a name as his user name with numbers like: bobsmith0293 (This would allow you to search him by name possibly, which I did, to see if he had other social media sites.) I did this and found nothing.

One of the biggest situations that stuck out to me was on Instagram he had the following statistics:

9 Photos (All Selfies)


1907 Following

Why is this relevant? Because 98% of the people he was following were females. He was fishing.

On any social media,  see how social they are. Do they post? Do they have friends? Do the friends comment? Are friends tagged in photos? If they seem like they are not a real person, they most likely are not.

You can do a Google Image Search where you compare the image they provided you and you can see if this image pops up anywhere else on the internet. This is a little hit-or-miss but it is still a good tool sometimes to find someone who has stolen another persons identity.

One of the final and most important things you can request is a video chat. Even if you do not like doing a video chat, there are so many apps that have this including: Facebook, Facetime, Snapchat, Google Hangouts, Skype, I know there are many many more. Even if it is for just a short time, you should see this person and actually speak with them.

How I caught mine was the photo trick listed above. He sent me a photo, no paper and no name. It wasn’t my request and proved nothing. So what did I do?

I walked away.

No matter the situation, do you build yourself into a false relationship. Do not justify why this person may be doing this. If you are looking for something real, even over the interwebs, then find it. You deserve that.

Good luck out there and remember there are always other fish in the sea. (I know that was terrible but fitting. )