They often make up life stories, use other people’s photos and even develop extensive fake life experiences, jobs or friends. Sometimes they trick someone into believing they are in an online romance and use this as a means to ask for money, gifts or nudes.
What to do
How to avoid being catfished and what to do if you think someone is pretending to be someone else online.
Trust your instincts
If it sounds too good to be true, chances are you’re probably right. Always be on your guard if someone randomly makes contact out of the blue — just like you would be in real life if someone stopped you on the street. Trust your instincts — if their story isn’t matching up or is inconsistent, you’re right to be suspicious of them.
Do they seem to know a lot about you?
If they seem to know a lot about you and appear to share many of the same interests as you, this is a warning sign. It could be an amazing coincidence, but it could also be the result of extensive online research about you.
Check your privacy settings and make sure you are comfortable with the amount of personal information you are putting out there. Read our article about how to manage your digital reputation or find out more about privacy settings in the eSafety Guide.
Check them out
Verify their picture using a Google reverse image search. If the photo is connected to lots of different names or is literally the picture of an actor or celebrity, things might be a bit fishy.
Check them out on other social media sites. If they have a low friend count this is a giveaway. You can bet it’s a fake if they’ve barely posted anything or don’t have any tagged photos.
Do they just want nudes?
Be wary of people who only want you to send pictures of yourself, especially nude ones. Definitely refrain from telling them anything too personal until you are 100% sure they are who they say they are. If they are pressuring you to send photos, block them and check out our advice.
Report fake accounts
Social media platforms have tools that allow you to report fake accounts. The eSafety Guide has reporting links for social media, games and apps.
If you are worried about something you sent them, or they have access to intimate images, see our advice on someone is threatening to share my nudes for more help.