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By Kerry Gallagher

A recent article from CNN provides some helpful explanations and tips we should remind ourselves and our teens about:

Catfishing is when a person uses false information and images to create a fake identity online with the intention to trick, harass, or scam another person. It is often on social media or dating apps and websites as a common tactic used to form online relationships under false pretenses, sometimes to lure people into financial scams. The person doing the pretending, or the “catfish” may also obtain intimate images from a victim and use them to extort or blackmail the person. This is known as sextortion.

How can we respond if we think we are being catfished? Here are some tips:

  • Ask direct questions to challenge the person. For instance, ask how they can declare their love for you so quickly or why they won’t communicate using anything but messaging or text? Often, this will cause the person to disengage and end the catfishing relationship.
  • Deterrent messages showing your awareness of catfishing schemes can also work. For instance, you could say, “I know you are scamming innocent people. My friend was recently arrested for the same offense and is facing five years in prison. You should stop before you face the same fate.”

For more information on sextortion, which can happen as a result of catfishing, check out the valuable guide from ConnectSafely.

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