If any of the following happen to you, you're are very likely being catfished.
- A random, attractive person starts talking to you online in some capacity.
- You can't get this person to use Skype, or his or her phone is often out of commission.
- When a breaking point is reached, then and only then does the catfish say he or she will visit you. This visit doesn't usually pan out, it's just used as leverage to keep you interested in the interim.
- Getting a physical address from them is incredibly difficult.
- You never hear people in the background during your phone calls because they are made with extreme caution.
There are many more, but they're too obvious to list. You get the idea. If we've learned anything from Catfish the TV show, it's that these investigations are not difficult. (Facebook profile, phone number, Google Maps, Google reverse image search. And repeat.)
1. The perfect person is not a real person. A supermodel or retouched profile photo should raise the first red flag.
2. Be wary if the profile describes a personality that complements your own or is too good to be true. Often, imposters will create interests and activities that mirror your own in order to start a conversation.
3. Check how many friends and followers are listed in the person's network. The average Facebook user has 130 friends. An imposter will often have significantly fewer.
4. Determine whether any of your "mutual friends" have actually met your newest online acquaintance in person.
5. Use search engines to do a quick background check on the name and basic information used in a profile. If the profile claims the person attended Oxford, currently works as a CEO at an international company or runs marathons, you should be able to find mentions of these achievements on alumni, company or running sites, respectively. Schulman admitted that Googling Megan earlier in their relationship could have saved him a great deal of embarrassment and heartbreak.
6. Peruse posted pictures and albums carefully. A real person will often have pictures with friends and family, who will have tagged and commented on photos. By contrast, imposters will often use modeling photos featuring only glamorous shots of the individual rather than group photos.
7. Don't be tricked if your friend has multiple people who vouch for him or her online. One person can easily make multiple accounts to make it appear as if there is a support network of family and friends.
8. Imposters will often try to interact with your own friends and family members to create a broader sense of familiarity and build up a broader network of trust.
9. Finally, if you've been harmed by someone who posted a fake profile, report it to site monitors and authorities. Although it may be humiliating to be duped online, authorities will be able to identify imposters and close their accounts more quickly than you working independently.
How Can You Spot a "Catfish"?
Use Google's "Search By Image" Feature to Check For Multiple Facebook Profiles With The Same Profile Image
Google is not just for text searches anymore. Google's Search by Image is a neat tool that allows you to upload a picture or a link to a picture and then scour the web for similar images. The Catfish filmmakers have used this same tool in the TV series to try and see if catfish perpetrators are using images stolen from other profiles rather than images of themselves.
Here's how to perform a Google Image "Search by Image" Search:
1. Find an image of the person you believe is catfishing you and either save the image to your computer or copy the link to the image. This can be done in most web browsers by right-clicking the image and choosing either "Copy link" or "Save Image As".
2. Go to images.google.com in your web browser.
3. Click on the camera icon in the search box next to the blue search button.
4. If you copied a link to the image then you can paste the link into the search box that pops up by right-clicking the search box and choosing "paste". If you saved the image to your computer then you can click the "Upload an Image" link (above the search box) and upload the picture to Google
5. Click the "Search by Image" button.
Alternatively, if you have Firefox as your browser, the easiest and fastest way to perform a Google search by image is to install and use the Google Search by Image Firefox Browser Extension. Once this extension is installed, simply right-click any image on the web and click "Search Image on Google" for instant results.