We all know the saying, “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.” This applies to pyramid schemes, Skechers Shape-ups (you know you remember those), and, most importantly, romantic partners. Now, it’s easy to dodge a pyramid scheme. Just say no when a high-school acquaintance who you haven’t seen in 10 years offers to treat you to dinner at Chili’s. And we all knew it would take more than a walk in some platform sneakers to get a body like Kim Kardashian’s (nice try, Skechers). We’re pretty savvy at spotting when businesses are trying to scam us, but are we as vigilant when it comes to people we meet on the internet?
Most of the time, we are. However, there’s a reason why Nev Schulman is still showing up on the doorsteps of internet privilege abusers everywhere, and we need to talk about it. Although the majority of us are aware when we’ve come across a catfish in the vast sea that is cyber dating, we could always use a refresher.
1. Their pictures are a little too good.
Let’s just get this out of the way — if they look exceptionally amazing in their photos, like, far better than the rest of your matches, you should be suspicious. Many fake profiles feature pics stolen from models and actors, a.k.a. those who are paid to be much better looking than us regular folk. So, if you come across a profile that fits this description, proceed with caution.
2. They’re in your wallet.
If the person you’ve been courting online finds themselves in a financial bind and is seeking your assistance to get out of it, it’s time to bid them farewell. Maybe their car broke down, maybe they need help with medical bills, or maybe they need money for a plane ticket to visit family — not your problem. Tell them to go take out a loan and also a hike, while they’re at it.
3. They’re not down to FaceTime.
So, their camera is always broken and they can’t send you photos or FaceTime. This is a telltale sign that they aren’t the person in the pictures that caught your eye. If you find yourself in a position where the person you’ve been chatting with always has an excuse as to why they can’t speak over video, there’s a distinct possibility that they aren’t who they say they are.
4. They’re moving too quickly.
If you haven’t met your match IRL, yet they’re trying to DTR, hit them with the side-eye emoji. Many tales of catfishing begin with said catfish coming on very strong from the get-go, so it’s best to shy away from these kinds of interactions.
5. Their stories are a little too extra.
If your new match is a fighter pilot and part-time model who, when they aren’t traveling to one of their 16 international properties, serves as a volunteer vet at an animal sanctuary in Bali, it’s time to call them what they really are: one (incredibly ambitious) catfish.
6. Their Instagram is dry AF.
Let’s be real: We love to overshare. That’s why most of us have hundreds of posts on Insta and at least a couple hundred followers. So, if someone you’re getting to know only has a handful of followers (if any) and even fewer posts, be suspicious. Some people have an aversion to social media, but some people are also more catfish than human. Check their tagged photos. If there aren’t any, there’s a possibility they’re not being honest about their identity.
7. They struggle with grammar.
We know, grammar police are the worst. However, if your match says they’re from an English-speaking country, yet their grammar and spelling prove otherwise, ask a few more questions. Most of the time, you’ll catch them in their lie and, in effect, end communication with them.
8. They’re never able to meet IRL.
This is perhaps the most prominent trait of a catfish. If you’ve been talking to your potential boo for a while, yet every time you suggest meeting IRL, they have a B.S. reason for why they can’t, throw them back. There’s a huge chance that they’re not the person you saw in pictures, and meeting you in person would immediately give that away.