How to avoid being catfished


Guys, I caught one! 

I had a pretty scary situation arise recently as a result of online dating, but was fortunately able to avoid the possibility of my head ending up in the freezer next to a quart of rocky road ice cream. I’m very vigilant when it comes to online suitors, and rightly so. You can’t take for granted that the person on the other end is who they claim to be. Hell… Some of them may not even qualify as people at all. I’ll give you a brief recap of my most recent scenario (there have been quite a few) and then give you some tips on how to avoid being Catfished on the Internet. At the very least, it may give you some peace of mind.

I began corresponding with a guy we’ll call Tom online (it’s irrelevant since he picked the name out of a hat). He was super witty and charming and said all the right things. I really looked forward to our chats and was agreeable to meeting him after about two weeks of delightful banter. I met him on Bumble, so I was a little curious as to why we had no mutual connections when we lived in the same city. That was my first red flag and I mentioned it in passing, with no real response from him. He just laughed it off. I decided it was worth my time to run a reverse phone # search to see what name the number was registered in. Guess what? It was a name I’d never heard of before. I plugged the name into Google and came back with a Facebook page. The page used the same pictures as “Tom’s” profile, so I knew it was probably the same person.
Here’s where the story takes a dark turn. I wondered what else he was hiding. In order to create a fake Bumble account, you first need to create a fake Facebook or Instagram account to connect with for verification purposes. Why would anyone do that? I found my answer soon enough. After a quick search on the Clerk of Courts website, I was alarmed to find the following terms beside his name: RAPE, Aggravated assault and kidnapping. Sprinkle in a little “state mandated HIV test” and we have someone who probably isn’t a desirable companion. I fully understand that there are instances where someone may be falsely accused, but it is NEVER acceptable to bait someone with a fake identity and attempt to get that person to meet you for drinks. NEVER. Got it?
Through my experiences, I’ve compiled a list of things you can look for or sources you can utilize if you feel that something isn’t right. I believe that a lot of us fail to see things sometimes because the fairytale is more enchanting than the thought of stumbling upon a mugshot. Your safety should be your primary concern.
1) The profile picture speaks volumes. If there isn’t a picture at all, immediately disregard the person on the other end. If he tells you that the site wouldn’t let him upload one, you know that’s a load of crap, right? If that person is really that dumb, do you want to meet him anyways? If he tells you he’ll gladly send you multiple pics using the KIK messenger app, DON’T DO IT! If you can’t risk the temptation, strap on a helmet because you’re about to be involved in what feels like a paint ball game, except using penises. Do you like penis paintball? If so, carry on. There’s also a 98% chance that this guy is married to someone else and doesn’t respect the universe enough to use Ashley Madison, instead of invading the “single people” dating sites.
2) Is the profile picture too good to be true? Well… That’s because it’s probably an Australian underwear model’s bio pic. Take that bad boy and drop it into Google images, using the reverse google images options. This will show you everywhere the photo has been used on the Internet. It’s also useful if someone is abusive and you’d like to know his real identity. I once had a prominent East Side dentist absolutely terrified that I’d post his disgusting sexual overtures to a stranger on his practice’s Facebook page, right next to the giant molar with a smiley face that was his mascot. There are also a variety of apps you can use on your cell phone, such as Reversee, but I find these less reliable.

FullSizeRender (8)

You model for Abercrombie?

3) I recommend using sites that use a verification tool through Facebook or Instagram or a paid site. This doesn’t eliminate fake profiles, by any means, but it’s less horrible. If you sign up for Plenty of Fish or OK Cupid, please don’t be surprised when 60% of the profiles are fake. I’m pretty sure this is how they pass the time in prison. Anyone can send you a message on these sites, and I prefer to hand pick who I communicate with. At least with Tinder and Bumble, you can see mutual connections. If he runs around with decent people, he’s probably less likely to be a cad. You can also get a full name by searching it under one of your mutual friend’s list of Facebook friends.
4) Reverse phone # lookup is something I swear by. It’s not foolproof, but it’s definitely helpful. There are a number of free search options, but they don’t typical return great results on cell phone numbers. I use stumpthemonkey.com almost exclusively. It may be the best relationship I have found online, now that I think about it. They will credit you back for any search that does not come back with a name. You may get a business phone number, which is swell because that means he has a job. Jackpot!
I’ve used “he” in this article, simply because that’s who I’m dealing with in my online dabblings. Let the record reflect that it could just as easily be a “she” being deplorable on dating sites. It may sound a little over the top, but I’d rather not be dismembered anytime soon, so I’m completely OK with being a bit nuts when it comes to my personal safety. Hopefully, some of you find this information useful, because God forbid we all have to get back out there and meet people face to face.

1 Response to “How to avoid being catfished”

  1. 1 Chuck
    August 17, 2016 at 10:14 am

    Well Jen, I’m glad you went to all of the work and trouble to find out about ‘Tom’. I’m not currently on any dating sites but men have to be careful too. Make sure you’re really talking to a woman if that’s what you’re looking for. You may just end up talking to Tom there too. 🙂

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About the Broad

A humorous look at dating in your mid-thirties and the other hilarious things that happen around us on a daily basis.

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