Catfish-Catch, Report, and Release
Are you catfish bait?
I planned to be finished with writing about dating last week, but my online dating experiment netted me two more catfish. Apparently, if you’re successful, intelligent, and self-sufficient, catfish catch your scent. If you’re a Baby Boomer and seem lonely, you’re even more desirable. Catfish seem to think that you’re not going to do a little investigation and figure out whose identity they’re using. One of the catfish that contacted me had a well written profile, but the messages I got didn’t match the profile’s writing style. Also, the photo he posted from his home in Hawaii looked like Magnum P.I. with a little more gray hair. As soon as he thought that the hook was set, he asked for my personal email. Red Flag! I refused and blocked him.
The next one gave me more information including the street name and city where his surgical practice was located. He also said he was Jewish. After searching online with this limited amount of information, I found a likely candidate who’s an erectile dysfunction surgeon specializing in penial implants. I responded telling him that I’d found his practice’s site on the internet, but wouldn’t give him my email, because I’d been the target of a catfish. He answered saying that he didn’t want a complicated relationship. When I blocked him, the online dating site asked why. I told them that this was a well-known public figure and the grammar style in the profile and messages didn’t match his level of education. I was happy to hear that they blocked him and took his profile off the site. You can’t fool a retired educator. Poor grammar is like finger nails on a chalkboard to teachers.
Have you had similar catfish experiences? Dr. Phil aired an episode where both older and younger women spent the entire interview crying over the money they sent catfish. According to Google, the MTV series “Catfish: The TV Show” follows the producers, Yaniv “Nev” Schulman and Max Joseph, of the 2010 documentary film “Catfish” around the country finding couples who formed an online relationship, but never met in person. Nev was the victim of a 40-year-old female catfish in the film. You’d never think that an intelligent, good looking guy would fall for this scheme. In 2012 Manti Te’o, who played for Notre Dame and now is a San Diego Charger linebacker, was also tricked into falling in love with a man pretending to be a woman online. In an ongoing news story, he was very publically humiliated by a catfish. No matter your social status, age, gender, or sexual preference, you can be a victim.
Thriving businesses exist in Ghana and other African countries where both men and women in internet cafes search for Americans, pretend to be successful heart throbs, and start relationships online. Once you’re hooked, they ask for money to travel to the U.S. or take care of medical bills. According to the Embassy of the United States-Accra-Ghana website, “The “419 scammer” is the type of catfish that you do not want to fall victim to. To start, they are almost impossible to pinpoint to one person. These scammers often work in groups, sharing ideas, photos, poems, identities, and even you, the victim.” The other name for this fraud is the Advanced Fee Fraud (AFF) which is named after the section of the Nigerian penal code which addresses fraud schemes. For years people have received emails or letters pleading for help in recovering multi-million dollar windfalls. The victims are asked multiple times to send fees to process the transaction. Forget about getting any or your money back. It’s at the bottom of the lake with the bottom feeders.
The embassy advises that you should be on alert if:
- You met a friend/fiancé online
- You’ve never met face to face
- Your correspondent professed love at warp speed
- Your friend/fiancé is plagued with medical problems requiring loans from you
- You’ve sent large sums for visas or plane tickets but the person cannot seem to make it out of Ghana
- When your friend does try to leave the country, h/she is detained by immigration officials demanding payment or bribes
- Your correspondent consistently uses lower case “i’s” and/or grammar not in-keeping with their supposed life station or education level
When it comes to dating someone new, you have to decide either to fish or cut bait. If you hook anything that looks or sounds like a catfish, my advice is to cut the line.
Continue your adventure safely.
For more information on catfish and 419 scams contact Embassy of the United States-Accra-Ghana website http://ghana.usembassy.gov/ or report the scam on http://www.ic3.gov, the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center.
Google bio on catfish the TV series