Have you been caught hook line and sinker?

Are you aware that there are scammers who fabricate on-line identities and entire social circles to trick people into romantic relationships? The term is Catfishing.

It’s a generational thing I guess. My children, and yes I still call them my children although they can now pat me on the head – see it as a perfectly normal way to meet a possible new partner. Us slightly more mature novices in the online dating game are slightly more cautious and it seems with just cause.
It may seem a perfectly safe way to engage in a conversation with someone on one of the numerous sites. What could be more harmless? You’re safely locked in your house and enjoying some banter with a good looking bloke or drop dead gorgeous girl online and then you suggest you might chat on the phone, facetime or skype. ‘Well my signal is bad – I can’t right now’, ‘My son is due home any moment so maybe tomorrow’, ‘My camera on my laptop doesn’t work so I can’t skype or facetime.’
You get to a point where you can spot them a mile off – always too good to be true, gorgeous, right height, shape, eye colour, successful, ready to meet a soulmate and the warning bells start to jingle. And sure enough, a day or two later their profile has been deleted ‘for your safety’. So what the hell does that mean?

They weren’t real… you have been ‘catfished’. The Wikipedia definition is as follows: Catfishing is a type of deceptive activity involving a person creating a sock puppet social networking presence for nefarious purposes. Historically, the term ‘catfish’ comes from fishermen putting sea catfish in with the cod to nip at their tails and keep them active during transport in order to produce more lively and fresh meat.
I recently listened to an interview with a male model who had had his photograph used a number of times on dating sites without his knowledge. As a married man, this had obviously caused huge problems and his wife took a little convincing that it really wasn’t him! Legally, he didn’t have a case and it took a lot of time and effort to eventually get his photographs removed.

Why I wonder would someone do that? Maybe they are lonely and just want to chat online with someone completely out of their league? Maybe they are a fraudster and out to persuade you to lend them money? Whatever the reasons, it opens a can of online dating worms there to catch the unwitting fish. So whether you are the poor unsuspecting soul whose photograph is being widely used on dating sites without your knowledge, or whether you are the person chatting to some gorgeous guy or girl who is actually a rather overweight person with a mental issue, you have been ‘catfished’.

One very scary statistic is the number of online fraud victims last year – 3889 victims handed over a record £39m – staggering! And yet catfishing itself is not illegal but there are currently moves to make it so. If a victim hands over money then the catfish can be prosecuted but if they are just assuming an online identity to spark an online romance, they are not currently breaking the law. A catfish victim, Anna Rowe, is currently fighting to make it illegal and all power to her. Anna is an attractive intelligent woman so who knows if we too are gullible enough to get caught on the hook?

Watch the documentary film Catfishing to find out more.

We at Pi Society meet everyone face to face, so we can vouch who they say they are and not let you get caught out by a worm, call us on 07970 825437,or visit our website: www.pisociety.co.uk

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