How to spot a catfish A catfish is someone who sets up an elaborate scheme to win the love and affection of another by pretending to be someone else online. Anyone can be reeled in by a catfish. It’s easy to forget common sense when you’re in a whirlwind online romance.

Here are ten ways to figure out if you’re being baited by a catfish:

1: Physical descriptions don’t make sense.

If their online profile says that they’re 6ft and weigh 90lbs; that’s a red flag. These kinds of descriptions should be proportional. You can ask them to send a photo holding a unique word or phrase of your choosing. Even better — ask them to skype or facetime. If they claim they’re too shy, or can’t find a camera, that’s another red flag.

2: Test their profile picture.

If all their profile pictures are professional — or they only have one — you should be very cautious. Use google to see if their picture shows up anywhere else. If you find the image with a watermark, or on another site (like a modeling agency) it’s probably a fake.

3: Scour their photos.

This takes the profile picture test to another level. Go through their pictures and look for inconsistencies. If they claim a photo was taken on a beach vacation, but you can see snow through a window — they’re probably lying. There are free online tools you can use to get the ‘metadata’ from photos which will let you know if they were taken in the place or at the time that the person claims.

4: Copy & paste their profile.

Take their introductory message and paste it into google. See if that same information has been used somewhere else.

5: Check their grammar.

Read the words they write out loud. Check their spelling and grammar. There will usually be some language barrier if someone is portraying themselves to be in your city, but they are actually far away.

6: They try to get to more personal channels.

If they push you to move from the site where you met to instant message or email, you should be cautious. Don’t be quick to move to a more personal level. Always make sure to create a new email when you sign up for dating sites. Don’t use your personal or work email.

7: The get serious very quickly.

A catfish will often make the first move. Often they come out of nowhere and seem to be exactly the mate you were looking for. Be wary if they dive in too deep, or pressure you to share more than you’re comfortable with.

8: Ask lots of questions.

Ask them where they are from, verify landmarks, and spellings of cities (double check this information online). Also, be aware: A catfisher will ask you lots of personal questions but will refrain from sharing too much about themselves. They might say that they’ve been hurt in the past by sharing too much, which makes it look like you have to prove that you can be trusted. This is a giant red flag.

9: They fake Facebook.

Be concerned if someone is able to set themselves up a dating profile, but doesn’t have facebook. Also be on the lookout for fake facebook pages. Some signs of a fake Facebook page include:

  • Date created around the time of the dating profile
  • Very few photos, and no one tagged in photos
  • Few posts and lack of engagement from friends on posts
  • Few friends

10: They treat you like an ATM.

You are NOT an ATM. If someone online asks you for money, sever all ties immediately. Most catfishers are not after money, but if they ask you for money it is a definite sign of a scam.

If the new person you met online seems too good to be true, they probably are. Always safeguard your personal information, and your heart when starting relationships online.