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Catfishing is when someone sets up a fake online profile to trick people who are looking for love, usually to get money out of them. If you're online dating, read these tips so you know how to spot a catfish. If you've been scammed out of your money by someone who wasn't who they said they were, there is help and support available. Get support. One way to do this is to look them up on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, or to search their name in a search engine. Of course not everyone has social media, but if someone's on a dating app or website, they're more likely to have some other form of social media.


Posted March 5, Reviewed by Devon Frye. Ever wonder if that guy you're chatting with online is legit? Maybe the girl you found on a dating site seems a bit too good to be true, and yet, she seems really into you Online dating is a convenient way to meet new people, but it's also a convenient way for people to engage in selfish, or even malicious, acts of deception.

This is of increasing public concern, given the growing use of dating apps.

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For many people, dating apps are a path to finding stable and healthy relationships. Online dating is clearly a helpful way to meet partners. But there are risks—not the least of which is catfishing. When people intentionally misrepresent themselves online, perhaps adopting a fake identity or spinning stories about a past that holds no link to the truth, they are—in colloquial terms—"catfishing.

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Online dating deception is fairly normative and largely benign. It usually refers to simply accentuating favorable features or downplaying less desirable ones. In other words, people using online dating apps regularly self-present in a not-perfectly-accurate way e. The goal of catfishing is different.

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From the very start, catfishing's core is deception; there are usually no plans to move a relationship offline because it's not an honest relationship. In its most extreme form, catfishing involves throwing out the bait e. Not all catfishing involves financial scams, but when it does, catfishing can mislead individuals to think they are in a legitimate relationship to the point where they want to send money or help.

They've been scammed: hook, line, and sinker.

What is catfishing online: s & how to tell

A recent study Mosley et al. Remember here that catfishing need not necessarily involve financial scams: simply creating a relationship that is false—maybe even a game to the catfisher—while it feels real and important to the other person fits the definition of catfishing. Women are more likely to be victims of catfishing.

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Both of these findings may reflect cultural norms that define men as relationship initiators, placing them in a position to catfish, versus being the target of catfishing. People higher in attachment anxiety appear to be more prone to perpetrating catfishing and are more likely to be victims of catfishing compared to individuals with more secure attachment orientations. Perhaps concerns of rejection and distrust about one's own self-worth motivate the deceptive self-presentation that underlies catfish perpetration by highly anxious individuals.

How to spot a catfish

Maintaining a relationship without putting the self at risk might allow for relational closeness while protecting the self. Why anxious individuals are victims of catfishing is less clear. Nearly one out of four women 23 percent admitted that they had perpetrated catfishing in a recent study that sampled women Mosley et al. Does this surprise you? The percentage was even higher in their sample of men, with one in three men 38 percent confessing that they had perpetrated catfishing. These s emphasize the need for vigilance and care during online dating.

Prioritizing safety is a critical first step in seeking companionship. Be skeptical when a person seems "too good to be true," or has online friends who are predominantly the sex they seem to be attracted to; these might be people who, like you, are being victimized with a false relationship. When people make excuse after excuse for not meeting up in person, this too may be a red flag.

And of course, any requests for private information e.

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Loneliness can make us long for a relationship; be proactive in taking steps to protect yourself from becoming a victim of catfishing. Mosley, M. Rosenfeld, M. Disintermediating your friends: How online dating in the United States displaces other ways of meeting.

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Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 36 Theresa DiDonato, Ph. Worry is driven by mood, not logic. Anxiety holds your deepest yearnings. And you can subdue it for good. Three experts turn everything you know about anxiety inside out. Theresa E. DiDonato Ph. Meet, Catch, and Keep. How Common Is Catfishing?

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Deception in online dating is a growing problem. Key points Catfishing, or the use of a fake online persona to lure someone into a false relationship, has grown increasingly common in recent years. While not all dating deception is nefarious, some catfishing schemes are deed to scam victims out of money or valuable personal information.

Though both men and women fall prey to catfishing, women are more likely to be victims, as are people with anxious attachments. Online daters should exercise caution—especially when a potential date seems "too good to be true.

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References Mosley, M. About the Author. Read Next. Back Psychology Today. Back Find a Therapist. Back Get Help. Personality Passive Aggression Personality Shyness. Family Life Child Development Parenting. View Help Index. Do I Need Help?

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If you have engaged with internet culture at all in recent years, you have probably come across the term "catfish", first coined in the documentary of the same name.


Although catfishing used to be seen more among adults using online dating platforms, it has now become a more widespread problem among adults and teenagers.


You can meet someone new without leaving your bed, while sitting on the loo or even when on another date.