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Catfish Scams: How to Spot a Catfish

Most people under the age of 40 have heard the word ‘catfishing’ before. However, if you are of a slightly older generation then you might not know what it means.

Essentially, catfishing is when someone pretends to be someone they are not, in order to trick or exploit you in some way. Essentially, catfishing is fraud.

Fraud has always existed and isn’t a new concept. However, social media, the internet and technology has made it easier than ever for someone to ‘catfish’ you and end up tricking or exploiting you in some way.

Unfortunately, this often happens to some of the most vulnerable in our society, including certain people of an older generation.

The consequences of being catfished are often detrimental, with people often feeling tricked, lied to, slightly embarrassed and more often or not, they’ve parted ways with a significant amount of money.

In addition to this, over 45’s are often targets as they tend to have the most saved up. In fact, according to a study carried out by YouGov between 2020 and 2021, adults in the UK managed to bank and save a staggering £72 billion pounds across the UK [1].

Another study carried out by the ONS has shown that the older you get, the more you have saved up, with the average savings account for those aged 65 or over averaging at approximately £25,000 – £50,000 a year. This makes this demographic the most vulnerable for scammers and catfishers [2].

At Equity Release Warehouse, we are dedicated when it comes to protecting your money, which is why we believe it is important for people to understand what a catfish is, and how to avoid falling victim to one.

Please call our 24-Hour Helpline: 0330 058 1579

What does it mean to be “catfished”?

Simply put, someone has been catfished when you have been led to believe that you are interacting with someone who isn’t who they say they are.

When it comes to online, this usually means that someone has created a fake social media profile and account so that they can interact with people using a different name and a different picture.

This could happen on any social media site, including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Alternatively, it could also happen on a dating website. Whilst most social media sites are working to prevent this from happening, it is extremely hard to monitor and to prevent.

Some people might be using fake accounts because they want to escape their everyday life. However, more often than not, there is a very sinister reason and motivation behind catfishing someone.

Usually, people tend to set up fake accounts online because they are missing something in their day-to-day lives. This could be something as innocent as love, affection and romance.

Other people set up fake accounts online to harass and bully people, so that they can take their anger and frustrations out on other people, without it affecting their real, day-to-day life.

Other people choose to catfish because they want to gain financially from their victims, and more often than not use love and romance and a tool and weapon to do so.

Unfortunately, catfishers tend to target the most vulnerable in our society, whether that be single parents, the disabled or the elderly. When someone has fallen victim to a catfish, they are often left feeling betrayed, embarrassed, confused, sad and to some extent, grief-stricken. Others end up feeling anxious and depressed for the rest of their retirement.

This is usually because you wholeheartedly believed that you had formed a relationship with someone who never really existed.

There is no right or wrong way to feel when you have fallen victim to a catfish. What is important, however, is that you accept that the person you thought you had formed a relationship with never really existed.

Please call our 24-Hour Helpline: 0330 058 1579

Signs someone might be a catfish

If you suspect that you are being catfished, or that someone you know might be, then it is important to look out for the warning signs.

There are a number of warning signs that someone might not be who they say that they are, but it is important to remember that someone doesn’t have to tick every one in order to be a catfish.

  • You have typed their name into Google, but nothing really comes up. If anything does come up, then the photos do not match the ones you have previously seen.
  • They involved money very early on in the relationship, and the amount of money they are asking for will help to get them out of a ‘tight spot’ or issue that they are supposedly having.
  • They never visit you in person, and to this day you have never met them face to face. They will also avoid going on Facetime, Skype or Zoom with you.
  • They tell you that they love you very early on in the relationship, without ever having met you first.
  • They seem to contradict themselves quite a bit, and their story never really adds up or makes much sense when you sit down and think about it.
  • They seem to be online a lot, but when you go on their social media profile, there isn’t much content or pictures, and they don’t have that many friends or family on their social media account.
  • No one else seems to post any content with them, they are the only ones who add anything to their page.
  • They have a ‘job’ which means that they ‘get to travel a lot.’ Subsequently, this means that they aren’t able to meet up with you in person. This is often the perfect excuse and can make someone seem more interesting and mysterious.

At Equity Release Warehouse, we don’t want anyone to fall victim to a catfish scam. If you think that you have, then you should contact the local authorities.

Please call our 24-Hour Helpline: 0330 058 1579

The different kinds of catfishing

Believe it or not, there are now different categories and types of catfishing. Whilst most people think of a romantic catfish, there are actually now a number of ways that people can catfish you.

1. White-lie catfish

Most people with a social media account who regularly post pictures on their social media pages are guilty of this one. A white-lie catfish is when you post a filtered version, or picture, of yourself on social media, often looking in the best light possible.

This makes us look more appealing than we do in day-to-day life. There are now loads of different ways people do this. There are endless photo and video editing apps which can easily cinch a few inches off of your waste or blur your skin to perfection with just a tap of a screen.

Whilst millions of people across the world are guilty of this one, there is not really much you can do to avoid falling victim to this kind of catfish. Most of this kind of catfishing is harmless, and you shouldn’t write someone off just because they have edited a few photos to make themselves look more attractive online than in real life.

The main thing is that they are who they say they are, even if their photos look a tad enhanced.

2. Romance catfishers

This is the most common type of catfisher and is often the most ominous as well. These types of catfishers are usually the type of person who is trying to emotionally manipulate you into giving them your hard-earned money.

They will form a romantic relationship with you online, and will ensure that the relationship moves fast. They will often tell you that they love you early in the relationship, and yet will always make excuses as to why they can never meet up with you in person or why they can’t ever jump on a video call with you.

Within just a few weeks, they will ask you for money and will make excuses as to why they need the money. They will usually say that they are in a ‘tight spot’ financially and might even say that they will be able to pay you back soon.

You should never send any money to someone you are talking to online. Regardless of what they say, you should never send them money or order them things online.

Please call our 24-Hour Helpline: 0330 058 1579

3. Emotional manipulators

Emotional manipulators are the other type of catfisher. These are the type of catfishers who target people on dating apps or other social media sites. They will often try to target people who look most vulnerable online. They will look for people who are single or who have just come out of a long-term relationship.

They will take advantage of your vulnerability and will tug on your heartstrings. They might tell you that they are also coming out of a relationship so that you have something in common.

4. Blackmailers

Rather than talking to you and emotionally manipulating you into handing over your money, they will find some information on you, which they will then use against you.

This could be anything from some information that you want keeping private, some private photos or some very personal messages that have been screenshotted.

Blackmailing is a very serious crime, and it is not something that should be taken lightly.

Please call our 24-Hour Helpline: 0330 058 1579

What to do if you suspect that you are being catfished

If you suspect that you or someone that you know is being catfished, then there’s a chance that you might be. If this is the case, then you should speak to someone that you trust, and should also ensure that you handle the situation safely and effectively.

Below are some top tips on what you should do if you suspect that you are being catfished.

  • Google their name, and see if the information that they have told you matches up to the information that you find online.
  • Do a reverse image search on Google. This will allow you to search for their images online, to see where the origin of these images are.
  • You should check their language, and look out for any inconsistencies with their language or any major issues.
  • Stop giving them any money immediately.
  • Ask them to do a video call with them and see how they react. If they refuse to go on video call with you, then there is a real chance that your suspicions are right.
  • Watch out for any lies or inconsistencies in their stories
  • Make and keep proof of absolutely all communications you can, and keep track of how much money you have sent them in the past.
  • Contact the police if you think that you have fallen victim to a catfish scam.

If you would like more information on how to best protect your money, then speak to someone at Citizens Advice. If you would like more information on how to release equity from your home, then speak to a member of the Equity Release Warehouse team.




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