Catfishing explained.

What is Catfishing?


Catfishing is a type of social engineering where someone creates a fake identity on social media accounts to lure people into emotional or romantic relationships. That is, people pretend to be someone they are not to deceive the person on the other end (victim).

The usual objective of a potential catfishing attack is fraud for financial or material gain. But lately, these assaults are also used for stealing sensitive information from employees, a technique known as “honey trap.” However, more than 90% of catfishing incidents are related to blackmailing, bullying, getting tricked, or being taken advantage of.

Catfishing Techniques

Catfish usually creates a fake profile on an asocial media platform or a dating app using stock images or photos from a real account. Using these photographs, the person tries to get in touch with a potential victim and engage in a romantic relationship.

Once the victim is entrapped by the fraudster, the possibility of extortion, blackmailing, exploitation, and cyber bullying is always the next step.  

Signs of Catfishing to Watch out for

Below are a few tips to avoid getting 'catfished':  

  1. The attacker tends to avoid sharing personal information apart from what is already displayed in their profile. Even they don’t give phone numbers.
  2. Avoid video calling at all costs and never share a Skype or FaceTime ID usernames.
  3. The profile picture always remains the same and often, all the pictures are giving out the same vibe or are taken during the same time of the year.
  4. Never share pictures or details of their friends, family members, or relatives. They may pretend to be traveling but don’t share the pictures of whom they are meeting with.
  5. Usually, a female catfish might have a larger ratio of male friends and a male catfish would have a huge ratio of female friends. The comment section also looks fake with no one talking about personal memories or shared events.
  6. Little to no information about the past including the academic record, past relationships, places and/or restaurants they have visited, past and current jobs, future plans, and so on.

Within just a few minutes, one can easily identify one or more of these signs and thwart the catfishing attack before it’s too late.

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