Catfish: what and how to protect yourself from the scam | Social networks

Catfish: what and how to protect yourself from the scam | Social networks

Catfish is a term used to refer to people who create fake Internet profiles to deceive users emotionally and / or financially. Criminals often pretend to interest the victim in order to gain their trust and then apply the scam, such as extorting money, leaking intimate photos, stealing bank details – in addition to breaking the victim's heart.

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Due to the seduction required for the victim to be deceived and the scam to occur, dating apps like Tinder, for example, are targeted by criminals. But there are several ways to protect yourself and identify fakes profiles on social networks. Therefore, the following guide explains everything about Catfish, including the definition of the term, the dangers of this scam, tips on how to protect yourself and identify a fake profile on social networking sites.

Malicious people create fake profiles in dating apps to make Catfish Photo: DivulgaoMalicious people create fake profiles in dating apps to make Catfish Photo: Divulgao

Malicious people create fake profiles in dating apps to make Catfish Photo: Divulgao

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The word Catfish means catfish in literal translation. The term is an English translation used for malicious people who create one or more fake profiles on the Internet to deceive users emotionally and even financially. The concept, according to the dictionary Merriam-Webster, appeared in 2010 with the release of the documentary Catfish, which tells the story of a man who suffers the blow of the same name. In one of the scenes in the film, the victim's wife makes an analogy to the case with an anecdote about fishermen who mix codfish catfish so that they remain on the alert until their arrival on dry land.

In other words, Catfish consists of pretending to be someone else on websites and dating apps with photos and information from third parties, in order to apply different schemes to other users of the platform. As they hide behind fake profiles, scammers avoid contact both by video and in person so that their true identity is not revealed. As manipulation occurs, the criminal can extort money, ask for favors or emotionally blackmail the victim, much like the catfish attacks cod in the metaphor of the Catfish documentary.

Tinder is one of the main targets of Catfish for being a relationship app famous worldwide. In addition, it occupies a prominent position in Brazil, as it is one of the countries with the largest number of registered users on the social network. The application forbids scams on its platform and disclosure of third party data without authorization. Depending on the case, Tinder can take steps such as deleting anything related to the fake profile.

There are several risks, both emotional and financial, for Catfish victims. The criminal pretends to be interested in the victim in order to gain his trust and then apply the scam. Among them leaking nudes (intimate photos), extortion of money and files infected with viruses that can steal your personal and banking data, in addition to a disillusioned love.

Infected files sent by Catfish makers can steal your data Photo: Pond5Infected files sent by Catfish makers can steal your data Photo: Pond5

Infected files sent by Catfish makers can steal your data Photo: Pond5

How to identify a fake profile

To avoid falling into the trap of Catfish, here are some tips to find out if a fake profile:

  • Pay attention to the profiles of successful people. The criminal can use a false virtual identity to impersonate a foreigner with a renowned profession;
  • Search for the person's name and photo in search engines like Google. Scammers use images and information from other users, usually with good looks, to attract their victims;
  • Make a video conversation. This is a way to find out if the person is really the same as the photos used in the profile;
  • Be wary if the person asks for money.

Google photos of the person to verify their identity Photo: Reproduo / FreePikGoogle photos of the person to verify their identity Photo: Reproduo / FreePik

Google photos of the person to verify their identity Photo: Reproduo / FreePik

Social networking sites and apps often have rules of conduct to prohibit inappropriate and criminal attitudes. Tinder has rules to be followed by users and its violation may, in some cases, mean the person's definitive expulsion in the application.

According to the Tinder guidelines, any content (be it photos, texts, trademarks, trade names or any copied media) reproduced without permission within the app may infringe copyright. In this case, the application has the autonomy to remove everything related to the fake profile on the platform.

On Tinder it is possible to report profiles and messages that violate the terms of use of the platform Photo: Reproduo / Helito BijoraOn Tinder it is possible to report profiles and messages that violate the terms of use of the platform Photo: Reproduo / Helito Bijora

On Tinder it is possible to report profiles and messages that violate the terms of use of the platform Photo: Reproduo / Helito Bijora

However, it is worth remembering that I need to report the profiles so that Tinder has awareness of the scammers present in the application. The step by step is easy. When you encounter a fake profile on the platform, touch the button and choose the option Report (name). You can then indicate the reason for the complaint so that Tinder can take action. If you check the Others option, give the application more information. After the analysis, Tinder should exclude any content (photos and messages) from the fake profile.

How to protect yourself from Catfish

There are several precautions that the user can take to prevent the coup. Here are some tips on how to protect yourself from Catfish:

  • Be suspicious if the person always has an excuse to avoid contact by video call or make an appointment in person;
  • Do not open files sent by the alleged scammer and keep the antivirus updated. The file may be infected and steal your personal and financial data;
  • Be aware of the criminal's invented stories and financial difficulties. In some cases, the scammer may convince the victim to send money with a well-told story;
  • Search for the person on Google or any other search engine. Thus, the user can confirm whether the photos and profile information are real or not.

Tips on how to protect yourself from Catfish Photo: Pond5Tips on how to protect yourself from Catfish Photo: Pond5

Tips on how to protect yourself from Catfish Photo: Pond5

Via Psafe and Merriam-Webster