An Investigator’s Insight into Spotting Fake Internet Profiles
Catfishing attempts and people being contacted via fake online dating profiles is all too common in our line of work. A person meets another person online, romance ensues, trust builds, yet something just does not seem right! If your intuition is telling you that you need a second opinion about your newfound love interest, then you need to listen to that feeling. All it takes is someone with a tiny bit of creativity, motivation and access to the internet to create a fake dating profile.
“Catfishing” is a common term that is used to describe the act of creating fake profiles and engaging in online relationships through those profiles. There are many ways to spot inconsistencies with dating profiles, which may save you weeks, months or even years of grief. Trust us, we see it all!
Here are some helpful tips to keep an eye out for if you think you may be getting catfished:
- There are multiple profiles on the same or different sites that have the same person pictured. To further this, the profile information may differ from profile to profile, even if the photo is the same.
- There are large gaps in the profile and very little information is given about the profile owner.
- The pictures on the profile all “could” be the same person, but there are differences that make you believe they are different individuals pictured. Some of the photos may even look like a stock photo, or a picture that is taken from other places on the internet.
- There is only one photo on the profile, and it’s an attractive headshot.
- The profile owner’s details seem too good to be true. Tall, dark and handsome. Large salary or CEO of a company. Homes in multiple cities. A devout Christian. Everything that is attractive to the majority of people, they have hit on.
- Sob story; the profile owner publicly displays personal information that is heartwarming or sad in an attempt to garner attention and appear more in need.
When engaging in conversation with a suspicious person, there are behaviors that may indicate a “catfish”:
- Did their initial message seem scripted or generic? Almost as if they inserted your name into a pre-made greeting. This type of introduction is used by scammers to contact large volumes of people on dating profiles.
- When exchanging messages, the person makes grammatical mistakes that do not fit their claimed age, spoken language or education level.
- They want to speak on the telephone, and the number that they call from has a caller ID or location that does not match their claimed location. Furthermore, their accent may not match the region that they claim to be from.
- They refuse to video call with you, or they always have an excuse as to why they cannot talk. They may even disappear for days at a time.
- They have been building up a story that puts them in a place of financial trouble. This story keeps getting worse and worse, i.e. they lost a job, someone has passed away, they were robbed, etc. Anything that keeps you emotionally sympathetic or empathetic to them.
- They ask you for money. This may claim it is for a business venture, to keep their phone paid or even for a plane ticket to come visit you.
- They want to know personal information about you. Your full name, address, your occupation. These come across as urgent for them to know.
- Occasionally, they will say something that does not fall in line with previous information they have provided. Their story has changed too many times.
- They claim to not have social networks such as Facebook or Instagram, or anything that can keep tabs on their activity in real time.
- They claim that they have strong feelings for you very early on in online relationship.
- Finally, they may claim to be famous, to know famous people, or to be royalty.
If any or all of these warning signs are true for you, you may be able to make your own judgement call at this point. If you are still very much on the fence or may be dealing with an experienced “catfisher”, there are avenues that you can explore with our company to reveal some truth in your online dating situation.
These situations can happen to anyone regardless of age, sex, or social status. There is no shame in dating online, and the experience should be made as safe and legitimate as possible for everyone that participates. Being able to say that you have some suspicion without letting the other person know is important and seeking professional help in order to verify information is the smarted thing you can do to safeguard yourself. Our experienced staff handles these types of cases frequently and can work with you to come up with investigation that makes sense to help put you at ease.