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  • Writer's pictureStepanka Matto

Digital Deception Unveiled: Protecting Yourself from Catfishing Scams- For Creators and Members

This past weekend, our CEO had a harrowing experience when a stranger unexpectedly showed up at her house in the middle of the night. This individual genuinely believed he had a date with Steph, having been misled by a catfish on Facebook using Steph's likeness. Watch Steph's video above, and then continue reading to learn how you can avoid these scams.

What is a Catfish Scam:

A catfish scam involves someone creating a fake identity, often online, to lure individuals into a romantic, emotional, or financial relationship. The term "catfishing" gained popularity from the 2010 documentary "Catfish" and its subsequent TV show. These scammers often use real people's identities, similar to what was portrayed in the Netflix miniseries "Clickbait". These catfish steal identities to impersonate online, building emotional connections with people and exploiting them financially, often operating from other countries.

How to Spot a Catfish:

Detecting a catfish can be straightforward if you know what to look for:

  1. Language: If you're interacting with someone like Steph, who speaks flawless English, and you notice poor grammar or odd language usage, they're likely a catfish. I've observed some catfish accounts using Spanish in their captions, which is a giveaway since Steph doesn't speak Spanish.

  2. Followers: Look at who is following them. In the case of the person impersonating Steph, many Nigerian men followed the profile. The followers of these profiles can indicate their location, as Facebook often suggests accounts in "People you may know" based on the account's location. For instance, I often see Ecuadorian profiles in my "People you may know", whom I don't recognize.

  3. Financial Requests: Be wary if someone impersonating a public figure asks for money. They often request it through unconventional means like wire transfers or digital gift cards. This is a major red flag. In the case of the man at Steph's door, he had spent thousands on someone he believed was Stepanka Matto. Genuine connections typically don't involve requests for large sums of money through unusual channels.

  4. Check Other Social Media Platforms: In Steph's case, most people who know her understand that she's more active on Instagram and TikTok than Facebook. She's also verified on Instagram. If you're communicating with someone like Steph, check her other socials. We all link our social media accounts in our Instagram bios. If the profile you're talking to isn't linked, stop communicating and report them to the platform.

What to Do if You're Being Catfished:

When you realize you're caught in a catfish's deceptive web, it can be a stark awakening. First, don't blame yourself. Falling for a catfish scam doesn't mean you're naive; it shows you're human and crave genuine connections. Trust your instincts. If something feels off, it probably is. The person always making excuses for not turning on their webcam, or the one constantly in crisis needing money? Those are big red flags.

Next steps? Gather evidence. Screenshot conversations, and if money was involved, keep transaction records. Then, sever ties. It's tough, especially with emotions involved, but your well-being is crucial. Talk to someone you trust, share your experience for an objective viewpoint. If there's a financial aspect, don't hesitate to contact the authorities. This isn't just about seeking justice; it's about preventing this predator from deceiving others. The online world is full of varied personas, but not all are genuine.

What to Do if Your Content is Used in a Catfish Scam:

If your content is being used for a catfish scam on social media, report every single page to the platform. When I found a page using my content, Facebook didn't remove it when reported for impersonation. However, reporting it for copyright infringement allowed me to email Meta directly, threatening legal action if they didn't remove it. This approach, especially with Meta, is more effective.

Additionally, make a public post informing your followers that the only social media profiles you have are those linked in your bio. Clarify that you would never ask for money in suspicious ways. If you run fan profiles like Unfiltrd or OnlyFans, remind followers that these are the only platforms where you would request money in exchange for content. These sites verify identities, ensuring safe transactions compared to sending e-gift cards.

These are our tips and tricks for dealing with catfishing scams. Be cautious, never send money through dubious methods, and follow the advice above to minimize the risk of falling for these scams. We'll link some resources below for spotting catfish and actions to take if you suspect being a victim.

K love you bye!! Sara Lyn

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