Social Media has brought yet another type of predator into our world; The Catfish. It’s phenomenon of internet users are out to steal others identities… or, will fabricate new ones in order to trick people into a relationship, through emotional/ romantic correspondence over a period of time. It’s so easy for them to create false identities, or actually use someone else’s; the perpetrator then pretends to be somebody they’re not while pursuing a relationship in a deceptive manner. Using Facebook and other social media sites can potentially put anyone at risk for these types of scammers, especially those looking for a romantic encounter. Luring people in, that’s what they call catfishing. First, they begin with small chat in order to gain your trust. It all seems innocent at first, while they ask personal questions to gain a better feeling of your personality. As they start to ‘play’ you they share false stories about their life, gaining momentum in their game so you’ll believe that their life is truly something it really is not; most of the time it couldn’t be further from the truth, but now they engage in a manner which begins to pay you compliments. These people (cat fishers) are anything but what they claim to be, and people who suffer from loneliness or self-esteem issues become their targets. They prey on personal emotions, while creating their own traumatic experience, in order to avoid meeting the individual they’ve been fishing. It sounds a bit weird, but in fact they’ll use any story that might tug on a person’s heartstrings. Capturing an emotional bond is part of their scheme and takes place between two individuals (the victim and catfish)…especially during their ‘created’ crisis, knowing all too well that sympathy plays a crucial part of their scheme. They know it works, as these are some of the strongest emotions we have as humans, while creating connections with others.

When searching for friends as you surf the internet, there are a few things to look for. If someone on social media doesn’t have a picture of them self on any site… make sure they are ‘who’ they say they are. Ask plenty of questions while confirming this and you should do your own personal search using multiple sites. It’s unfortunate that people steal ‘your’ pictures from social media sites, such as Face Book (most popular site) and use them for the one they’re creating; they never use their own photos. People using false identities can be extremely convincing, and it’s happening every day all over the world. They’re always searching for their next victim, so keep close watch on your family’s accounts as well, because they also prey on those who’ve passed and never deleted the account of the deceased. If someone is asking to be your friend on any social media site, gather enough information to make sure they are the one asking. It’s so easy to hit the confirm button and move on to other tasks, but you should immediately look into their profile. If they are new and have no photos or many friends, I suggest asking questions ASAP and don’t hesitate to ‘unfriend’ while doing so. We all need to protect ourselves today; I have had a few of these and had to delete immediately. Psychologists are currently searching for more information as to what motivates them in their pursuit of deceitful relationships on the internet. Some believe its mental illness, while others think it’s an unstable life of their own. We could discuss this subject matter all day long, but the fact is… we need to continuously educate ourselves as internet users, so we become aware of the different crimes being committed. Always remember… ‘Proceed with caution.’

Make your week count.