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Catphishing Scams. What are They and How to Avoid Them?

avoid catphishing

Catphishing belongs to the family of Phishing attacks. Hackers try to scam their victims, by pretending to be someone else. For this, they use stolen pictures and information or just build a fictional identity.

How does catphishing work?

As it is a type of phishing, this kind of attack works quite similarly. Still, it has some particularities.

Usually, attackers try to attract unaware users into relationships or fraudulent schemes. If they manage to do this, they steal their victims’ identities, and also their money. They usually lure naive users into online relationships. But something that might seem beautiful, can turn into serious trauma.

Typically, these scams start on dating apps or social media platforms. Scamers use fake names, and pictures, to build an attractive portrait for their victims. After getting in contact, they would do everything to establish a connection, by using fake pictures and details.

But their ultimate purpose might vary. Sometimes, they try to obtain personal data, which lets them steal the victim’s money. In other situations, they just need their victims’ details, to use them in other fraudulent actions.

And this might be the most neglectable part of the scam. Sometimes, their victims need assistance after the emotional trauma they suffer.

So, to avoid this, you need to look for the signs of it. Here they are.  

How to spot this scam?

The more you know about the signs of such schemes, the safer you are. So, remember these things, when you decide to involve in an online relationship.

  1. These hackers do anything to avoid meeting you in person, or even in a video chat. This is because they use false identities.
  2. If you perform basic research online, you cannot find too much info about them.
  3. Usually, they ask for financial support and use emotional manipulation for this.
  4. Their stories seem unrealistic or inconsistent, as they try to elaborate them, in order to be more convincing.
  5. Scammers always avoid answering personal questions, as they try to hide their real identity.
  6. Attackers try to seem perfect. But they only build personas for this.

Tips to stay away from it

Now, that you know the signs, here is how to avoid these harmful situations.

  1. Always be cautious when chatting online, with unknown people. Look for the red flags mentioned above, especially if they ask for money or personal data.
  2. Take your time to do some online research and verify the identity of unknown people who approach you. Any suspicious sign should keep you away from them.
  3. As a general rule, never give any sensitive details about yourself to unknown people.
  4. Use secured messaging apps and video platforms, which provide end-to-end encryption.

Still, if they manage to fool you, but you realize this, you should cut any communication with them. Block their email address, social media accounts, and phone numbers.

Changing your password is a good idea if you previously shared them. But this shouldn’t stop you from reporting the scam to the authorities. When doing this, include the communication you had with the scammer(/s).  

If you feel really bad after becoming a victim of catphishing, talk to your friends and family, and think about contacting a supporting professional.

Now, you should know how to recognize and avoid this type of attacks. Remember that an informed user, is a strong user!

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