As the social media world continues to flourish, so do the threats of online deception. The next generation of social media attacks are being categorized in a slang term known as a “catfish” attack. The concept behind these threats are similar to internet hackers and malicious social engineers; convince the victim that you are someone else by ways of deception, most commonly through social media applications.
What these criminals seek are revenge on past relationships, identity theft and fantasies. The reason these threats are becoming so common are because online users are often willing to disregard warning signs in hopes of this false reality.
What we need to keep an eye out for?
Often times dating sites and social media can be the biggest misconception because you never really know who you are communicating with and sending personal information to. On the MTV series Catfish, it told the story of a female victim who put her trust in a fake celebrity. The attacker in this case was an average man who posed as a popular musician and when this “musician” reached out to the victim, she was all too willing to play along. The victim used her own expenses to fund this “celebrity” not knowing she would never receive compensation for the money she put out.
What to look for/how to avoid getting catfished online:
- Do your research, use online tools, google searches and google images to find if your online connection is real.
- Check for multiple Facebook profiles with the same profile images.
- Look for low number of Facebook friends, then check for common friends.
- Look for missing tags in pictures or no tags at all, images may be taken from other sources to create a profile.
- Watch for excuses on why the person cannot meet in person, talk on the phone, Skype or FaceTime.
- Watch for aggressive questions for personal information. Ex. What is your phone number? What is your address? Etc.
- Never provide financial support or personal information that could compromise your bank account, location, or identity.