“We live in a fantasy world, a world of illusion. The great task in life is to find reality.“Iris murdoch
NOTE: This post is from a male perspective. I can’t speak for what women experience because I ain’t one.
I like to fish. Catfish are, as we say down here, Good Eatin’. But that’s not the kind of catfish this blog is about. No, these catfish are impossible to swallow. In fact, it’s not trying to swallow these catfish that is the problem. The problem is trying not to be swallowed by them.
A few months ago people started “following” me on Instagram. Lots of them. When I say “people” I’m talking mostly young, very attractive females. It’s was all that following which led me to write this blog. I had already learned a lot of catfish tactics but I was very surprised to find so many on what I thought was a stand-up site like Instagram. I guess sometimes I’m a little naïve. In any case I thought I would let you in on the things I’ve learned personally by finding myself the target of the Love and Money schema.
I’ve always used Instagram as an avenue to advertise my books. I was surprised to suddenly become the target of catfish. The notices piled up in a very short time. It took me a little while to catch on but when I did it became a game to see how I could make them screw up. Eventually the overwhelming number led me to block many more than I chatted with.
I’ve run across catfish on other sites. Why I was snooping around is a story for another day. I bounced around going to various places I might find a friend. Over time I learned some of the tricks catfish use to snare lonely, gullible old men. I discovered to a greater or lesser extent they were on every single platform I visited.
Catfish profiles are always very similar. They present themselves as young, beautiful women, Usually around 30. They always have large breasts. I guess that’s what they think men want. I knew something “fishy” was going on when I got not one or two but dozens of them tapping at my door.
Catfish believe flattery will get them everywhere. Sometimes they are very good, most times they are laughably stupid. It’s all love and admiration for you. You are their world. They want to meet you, spend their life with you, have your babies. All that adulation becomes almost annoying.
I learned to spot catfish quickly. Most of the time I blocked them or told them off and blocked them. Once in a while I called them on their fakery and basically said, “show yourself!” Oddly enough, twice I got a reply. Both respondents were African men, in their twenties. They lived in Nigeria. It was hilarious to think about a young black man from Africa passing himself off as a young American woman. Well, it is until you think about what they’ve been doing.
Whether or not they’re Nigerians, the format is the same. The process begins. Someone digs through Facebook pages, other social network pages, and anywhere else they can find a few pictures of some buxom (not always but usually) young woman. These photos are used to create a personal profile with fake names, locations, etc. They or someone else searches for suckers. When they find them, they go fishing. (This is educated conjecture.)
There are a couple of ways to spot catfish quickly. Look at their pictures. Many of them are clearly taken by someone else. Some even look like professional shots. There are very few selfie shots. The pictures do not ever have clues to where they were taken in the background. One sent me a couple of goofy risqué pictures that was clearly taken by someone else and I asked who took the picture. I doubt she was expecting that question. She said her sister took them. Right, her sister is helping her flash old men.
Catfish approach you rather than responding to you speaking first usually. On Instagram if you “friend” them after they “friend” you, expect a swift and sweet response. The dance begins. They say “hi” and ask for a picture. Then they send their own. They ask how old you are. Of course they are much younger but it’s ok, “older men are more trustworthy” or “age is just a number.” They blubber about how handsome, attractive, and wonderful you look. It may be true in your case, but I see my mug in the mirror every day and I know I don’t qualify for those compliments. It’s flattering, anyway.
The next part of their conversation goes to where you live. I discovered quickly that when I gave them my actual city and state they interestingly “lived” somewhere within driving distance. A few even claimed to live in my town! Wow, a meetup! What horny old man is not going to fantasize about that? One of them picked a tiny community where I happened to have lived once. There are no businesses there except maybe a lone gas station. She said she worked at a salon or some such, a place that does not exist there. Bang! Block!
Catfish usually claim to have the same type of employment. They “work” in cosmetics, or as a hairdresser or something very similar. Never a banker or candle-stick-maker. I have found exceptions. A couple claimed to be doctors. A few said they were nurses. There was as a smattering of other professions. (One said she did home maintenance!) Some said they were just unemployed. They are never very imaginative.
Very quickly they want to switch to another medium like Google Chat or WhatsApp. Google Chat is easy to block someone on. My google email is for junk mail so that’s no biggie. I like WhatsApp even though it requires giving a phone number because it shows the number they are using. My phone number is out there anyway, as is all my general information on my website. So I give her a number and almost instantly we’re on WhatsApp.
“Oops! I’m Stupid!”
Half the time catfish prove themselves to be fakes with the first message. The number they use is Nigerian! (Country code 124) They are so obvious I simply tell them how fucking stupid they are and block them. Many have a US number but never live in the area code where the number is from. Often the account shows up as a “business” account. It’s another dead giveaway.
They want to get off the site they met you (ie. Instagram) because they will probably get the boot there for being fake. Another reason is to claim they are speaking to you exclusively. they will sometimes say they deleted their profile on the “dating site” because you are the one! They will ask you to do the same.
Catfish share their living situation Most of the time it is extremely predictable. Always, always, always, their parents are both dead. They died in a car crash usually, or something tragic. The poor catfish was left alone, often as a child. They live with a sister, a granny, or an aunt or they live alone. They say they’ve been “hurt” by a bad husband/boyfriend/lover and “don’t want that to happen again.”
English and Bad English
The English they use is often broken and British. They use strange word combinations and British spellings: colour for color, etc. Sometimes their rambling is impossible to decipher.
The conversation progresses. Within a few days or even sooner the fawning catfish falls desperately in love with you. “I love you forever. I want to be with you! I need you!” They seek your love, too. “Do you love me?” Sometimes I just said yes to see where the conversation went. Usually, I said no. I popped their bubble then, but they quickly blew another one. One of the most hilarious examples of “instant love” was from a French speaker (appearing to be?) who sent me a translation saying she loved me and wanted to be with me. We had not even chatted!
Some catfish get right down and dirty, going into sex talk. Most do not. Conversations are always one-sided with you telling your life story and they not telling much of anything. Like I said already, they ask for pictures every time they talk. There’s little doubt they’re building another fake profile with your pictures. Oh the poor woman lured by my face!
One thing I always noticed in conversations was how everything was “great” or “cool” to catfish. Tell them your dog died, your car blew up, you fell out of a plane, it’s always, “Oh wow, cool,” or “that’s great!” They have zero sense of humor. My jokes and jesting flew right past them. They couldn’t understand English either, often not understanding a simple phrase.
Within a few days, if not sooner, your loving catfish throws out a hook. “My phone is so messed up,” they say. “I can’t send good pictures, I can’t make video calls, etc.” Sometimes it’s the internet connection. Then there is the need to buy “food-stuffs.” (Nobody in this country uses that term.) They think you will be so sad they’re hungry that you’ll chip in a few bucks. They only ask for fifty bucks or so usually.
Sometimes they ask for more with a ore elaborate ruse. “My mom/ auntie/ grannie is in the hospital and I only need $500 to pay the medical bills. Sure they are. Enormous sums are taken by them according to some sources. I presume if you bite the first hook bigger ones come along. I never tossed a dime to them so I don’t know about that.
The catfish will come to you, no matter where they are. They’ll come over! “Can you help me out with gas?” or “help pay for my trip?” I say, “sure, when you get here I’ll give you gas money.” But that would not work. Funny that. Sometimes if they’re supposed to have a kid so they want a game card to “keep him/her occupied.” You know, so momma can make woopie in the next room with a strange old man. (Grandpa how could you?!)
Wealthy People Need Help
I have had catfish who claimed to be doctors or nurses or professional people who suddenly can’t access their money or lost their credit/debit card and need a little cash. I even had one that claimed to be a professional worker on an oil rig in Norway. She lived in London, she said, but interestingly enough her parents lived in Denver. She’s going to stop by to see me when she visits them. Nice. But can I pay half the airfare?
There are ways to flush catfish out if you’re not yet convinced. One way is by asking for a specific address. They won’t give one. Or if they do, it’s made up. It is easy enough to verify on Google.. Once I asked a catfish who claimed to live in Dallas where she lived specifically. “Huston.” I told her there was no “Huston” near Dallas. It became a street. One that didn’t exist either. And never a number. Of course, “she” probably meant Houston, without the slightest clue that Houston and Dallas are five hours apart!
My beloved catfish always wanted to come to me, but I said no, I’ll go meet them. I tell them I need their address. As I said, they always faltered there. They also declared “my auntie/Sister/Granny would not approve.” I say I’ll pick them up. That won’t work either. The conversation usually ends or I delete them. So much for eternal love!
Not all of the catfish are women and not all the “women” are Nigerian hustlers. Several were hustling in another direction. Those eventually get around to promoting crypto markets and investments. One sent me the website of a company where I could “invest” my money, a company very high on the fraud scale. I told her about that and she just said, “I’ve made millions there.” Sure you did.
There are even catfish who “appear” as a man. A few were just gay and had sweet words. I don’t swing that way. Not all of them were. One claimed to be a Marine. He said he was currently in Syria but had traveled to many places. There were lots of pictures. It was an interesting conversation. A little far-fetched, but ok, fine. The next morning I sent a Marine greeting to him: “OOOoorahhh Marine!” Whoever they were probably did not know what that meant. No response.
I struck up a conversation with my son, the Marine, who’s on Instagram a lot. I sent him the guy’s profile. He sent sad faces. “It’s a catfish. I can tell!” I’d figured that out already. The only question I had was what was his hustle? He was probably going to lose a card or have his money stuck in a bank and ask for help. I don’t know. I just blocked his ass.
Double Or Nothing
Some catfish vanish when they figure out they’re not getting the fifty bucks or so for “gas” or “food-stuffs.” Others hang around and try other things. They might want you to open an account at a bank and give them access. Some tell you “grandpa/dad/? died rich and I need to be married to inherit millions of dollars.” For me that one was easy. “I am already married.” Sometimes they want to fake it. Right, it’s called fraud. I’ve had them send copies of “documents” and “wills” spelling these things out. Some want access to your Facebook. I had several actually request a verification number from my account and ask for it.
I’ve pointed out how to spot the majority of catfish. I’m quite sure there are plenty who do not fit this mold and are much harder to spot. The obvious ones don’t seem to have put much planning or thought into their work. It does no good to delete their files or even tell the app to block all. Once they find you, they will come for you. Bottom line, however, don’t believe anybody. Don’t trust anybody. Don’t send anybody a dime, ever. Play around with them if you are bored but do not be sucked in! As I read a while back, “if it sounds too good to be true, it is.”
I’m pissed off at the callous, heartless nature of catfish who prey on dumb and gullible people. Usually older people. I’m also appalled that so many people are just stupid enough to fall for their idiotic schemes. I’m deeply saddened that we’ve come to this in our country.
I hope you have learned a few things about catfish and how to spot them. Like I’ve indicated, they are everywhere. Too many people are sad, lonely, hungry for attention and want to be loved. They can easily be enchanted, distracted and gullible. The whole process grates against what we think of as natural. But it’s a real problem and a huge threat not only to pocket books but to a person’s psyche too. Recognize this and don’t get sucked in. Just don’t.