"Catfishing" is a relatively new term for individuals who misrepresent themselves online, usually in return for a relationship. The word was first used in 2010 and later added to the dictionary in 2014. Commonly thought of in relation to online dating, catfish may create a fake profile or a profile containing misleading information in order to get a date.
While some individuals who catfish others do it for malicious reasons, this may not always be the case. It is possible to catfish someone without even realizing it. This post will dive into what a catfish is and if there are any legal consequences to being one.
What are the signs of a catfish?
There are a few tell-tale signs that you may be catfishing someone else.
- Too good to be true: Everyone wants to present their best selves online, but everyone has some flaws. When you create your online profile to be picture-perfect, claiming you are someone you are not or posting photos that are not of yourself, or are outdated, you could be considered a catfish.
- Asking for money: If you are befriending individuals online for the purpose of gaining money from them, it signals a red flag. Catfish often will scam others into giving them money for reasons that are not true.
- Playing a prank: If you create a fake profile in order to con someone into doing or saying something, it is likely that you are catfishing them.
What are the consequences to catfishing?
Catfishing is not a victimless crime. Misrepresenting yourself online in order to gain a monetary award can get you charged with fraud. Even if you are not taking money from others, there can be severe consequences. Catfishing that results in emotional or physical harm can quickly have you facing a lawsuit. When you are catfishing on the internet, the evidence stays out there, easily able to be used against you in court.