Private Investigation And Security News

CatFished

Catfish.  Ever since the Manti Te’o girlfriend hoax, catfish, is a term that continues to rise to the top of the media pool.  For those of you that don’t know catfish is a name given to a person that uses social media to create false identities to dupe others.  “Catfish” is also the name of a 2010 independent documentary directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman as well as a MTV sitcom titled Catfish: The TV Show.   Both of these versions are eerily like the situation that faced Te’o.  The host of the MTV show commented on Te’o’s situation, “My reaction is, quite frankly, no different from my reaction on the show.  It doesn’t really change anything for me that this victim is a high-profile football player.  I think it can and obviously does happen to anyone.”

And that is the scariest part of it all…it can happen to anyone.  We frequently meet clients who have been “CatFished” and do not suspect anything until a request for money. Our investigation then reveals the truth.  Do you think your online relationship is too good to be true?  Chances are - it is.  So how do you protect yourself?  You could hire a private investigator, but first try some of the suggestions below.  There are a few things that you can do yourself before you take further action:

Google image search

People can create Facebook or Twitter accounts using pictures taken from elsewhere on the internet.  If something doesn’t feel quite right about this person and their profile, use a free tool offered by Google.  Go to images.google.com and drag the image from the page or copy and paste the image URL.  It is best if there are no matches or if the result is “no other sizes of this image found.”  This means that the image has not been shared by thousands of websites.

Check the person’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, & Linkedin activity

Does the person have many friends?  Do they post regularly on their timeline?  Do they post pictures of their friends, family, or pets?  Are they tagged in other peoples’ pictures?  If the answer to these questions is ‘No’ then you should have concern.  Posting habits on social media sites such as Facebook can tell you a great deal about whether this person is attempting to deceive you.  If a person is attempting to hide information or access, you should beware of their true identity and intentions.

Get a Professional Background Check

A background check performed by a licensed professional is the best way to answer your questions and calm your fears.  Online databases do not offer the full story.  Often times they are not up-to-date or can even have incorrect information.  Know what you are getting yourself into.  Ask a professional for help and they can give you the answers that you are looking for.