The Los Alamos Police Department (LAPD) wants to know if anyone in the community has been the victim of a catfishing scam.
What Is Catfishing?
Catfishing is when a person takes information and images, typically from another person, and uses them to create a new identity for themselves. In some cases, a catfisher steals another individual’s complete identity; including images, date of birth, and geographical location, pretending it is their own. The catfisher uses this new identity to lure their target into an artificial relationship, usually through social media or dating website
Why Do People Catfish?
People catfish for several reasons. Although some do not have malicious intent, others will directly seek harm toward individuals.
Some Primary Reasons Behind Catfishing:
- Concealing their identity;
- Mental illness;
- Experimenting with sexual preferences;
- To harass their target; and
- Personal gain.
Five Possible Signs You Are Being Catfished
It can be difficult to tell when you are being catfished, particularly if the catfisher’s profile seems real, and if the catfisher seems charming, caring, and honest;
However, if you notice any of the following signs, you may be the victim of a catfishing scam:
- They Do Not Have Many Friends or Followers on their account:
The account was created for a specific reason: to catfish! It was not created to make friends or gain followers. The less followers, the less chances of getting caught.
- They Never Want to Call/Video Chat:
If someone refuses to video chat or engage in a voice call, they may be trying to keep you from seeing how they really look, or hearing what they really sound like. In most cases, the catfisher will make excuses as to why they cannot talk or video chat.
- Their Profile Picture Remains the Same or often professional in nature such as military pictures since those are easy to steal online.
- They Ask You for Money:
If your suspected catfisher asks for money or a gift, even if you’ve already formed an emotional or business connection with the person, it is best to refuse their request. You should never send money/gifts to someone whose identity you cannot confirm.
- They move very quickly with the “L” word:
If you are in contact with someone you’ve never met, and they claim they love you in a very short time frame, they may be catfishing you.
It can be difficult to avoid being catfished, but there is much you can do to prevent falling for the scam. Always be cautious about people you talk to online or a friend request from someone you don’t know.
If you feel something is not right and you suspect you’re being catfished, you should discontinue all association with the person(s) immediately, block them on your social media, stop all payments you may have made to them, and contact the authorities if you’re being defrauded of money or property.