10 ways to spot a catfish

A few years ago, I was obsessed with the TV show Catfish. I couldn't understand how so many people were duped by others pretending to be someone they weren't. This weekend, it almost happened to me, for 24 hours, I believed I was exchanging messages with 'John' after he found me on Instagram.

My gut feeling from the beginning was that something was amiss, but I went with it anyway. After about an hour, I reverse searched one of his Instagram images. That's a trick I learned on Catfish. Immediately, the photo came up on the profile of a respectable New York businessman. For the next few hours, I was cagey and John persisted - even when I called him on the photo issue. He just got hurt and then forgave me. That was nice of him.

So, here are my top ten ways to spot a catfish, based on this weekend:
  1. If your instinct tells you something is wrong, listen to it. You're probably right.
  2. The more perfect they seem to be, the more likely they are to be imaginary.
  3. When they ask about your interests and they seem to match theirs perfectly, smell a rat.
  4. If they say "I miss you" after just a few hours, they don't. They can't - especially if you've only conversed online.
  5. Social media platforms are social. Dating platforms are for flirting.
  6. Video calls tell you a lot. If technical issues stop that happening, there's a reason.
  7. No photos of them with friends on their social media platforms? Who does that?
  8. Extensive travel for their job is great, but do their social media platforms reflect that?
  9. They say they're English but their language sounds like a translation.
  10. As soon as they ask anything about your financial situation, drop them. I said "I've got to go" and signed off.
Never be afraid to block someone who's approached you out of the blue - if they're genuine, they'll understand.