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How to Spot a Scammer or Catfish Profile

Catfishing is a trick used by scammers who use fake online personas to commit online fraud. Catfishers use social media, dating websites, discussion forums, and chat rooms to create fake profiles and use them to communicate with others. Their ultimate goal is to get you to send them money, or personal information that they can use to steal your identity.

Some catfishers are very thorough in creating their fictitious online identity. They will create fake social media profiles across multiple social media platforms. They will have their own set of friends, timeline activity, regular posts, and more.

Most scammers are easy to spot and avoid. Here are some things to look for:

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  • Profiles with very little information
  • Profiles with non-specific or vague information
  • Profiles without photos, or with a generic photo
  • Look for common keywords associated with fake profiles, including widowed, royalty, etc. Not all profiles with these words are fraudulent, but the worlds are common among those that are.
  • Be wary of those who claim to have a Ph.D. or Doctorate degree. Scammers think having an advanced degree lends an air of credibility to their online presence. If the person you are chatting has a higher level of education, make sure it is consistent with the rest of their information.
  • What country are they from? The majority of fake profiles are from Ukraine, the Philippines, and Nigeria. Just be aware that smarter crooks won’t put any of those countries in their online profile.
  • If you’re evaluating a profile on a social media site, look at their friend’s list. Online thieves usually don’t have a lot of friends.
  • Is their profile photo that of a model or actress? Do they seem too good to be true? Perhaps they are. Beautiful people, even models, use online dating websites. But, the person with the beautiful face and amazing body should at least make you pause and think, “Why can’t this person get a date?” If they seem too good to be true, do some more investigation and consider more than just their photos.

Pay attention to grammar and spelling

Many scam artists live in countries where English is not their primary language. Look for grammar mistakes and misspelled words. Their writing skills, vocabulary, slang, etc. should be consistent with their personal characteristics. In fact, some of their messages may not make any sense at all.

Be on the lookout for hard luck or hardship stories.

Internet con artists usually have some kind of hardship, such as: trying to raise money for a sick family member; they are stuck in a foreign place and don’t have the money to get home; they don’t have enough money to pay their bills.

Be wary of anyone who sends you links.

The link can lead you to a phishing site that tries to steal your login and password, your personal information, etc. As a rule, I recommend that you don’t follow any links that other people send you on a dating site. It is fine on social media if it comes from a family member or a known friend. However, you should still be cautious.

Trust Your Gut

As always, if something seems off it probably is. The information in this post is just a start, many times you will need help from a professional to confirm your suspicions. An experienced Private Investigator can help with catfishing investigations and sex decoy investigations.