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catfish

Contributor(s): Ivy Wigmore

A catfish is someone who creates a false online identity.

Catfishing is common on social networking and online dating sites. Sometimes a catfish's sole purpose is to engage in a fantasy. Sometimes, however, the catfish's intent is to defraud a victim, seek revenge or commit identity theft.

Either way, a catfish exploits the fact that people are often willing to ignore warning signs that a friend or acquaintance may not be who they claim to be. In an online relationship, such signs include refusals to meet in person, refusals to video chat, claims of a serious disease or injury, unusually attractive profile images, personal information that doesn't add up, or requests for money.

See also: sock puppet

 

This was last updated in June 2014

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