Catfishing Hits Close to Home

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Beware of catfish – Michigan ranks among the top dollars spent on this expensive faux love scam.

You may have seen the movie or the popular MTV television show, but if you are unfamiliar with the term “catfish” – you’re about to learn a thing or two.

What is a catfish? Well, outside of the ones you find in freshwater environments, a catfish is a person on the internet who pretends to be someone else to scam others out of money, time, gifts and affection. Generally, when a person fakes a dating or social media profile by pretending to be someone else – the objective is usually to ask for money or it’s a form of thrill-seeking for some personal gain. The “money” portion of that being the most common. Revenge or bullying is another common motive for catfishing.

You may think, “It will never happen to me,” but chances are if you spend any time on the internet, you’ve crossed paths with a catfish and didn’t know it. Surprisingly, Michigan is a state where the issue is more common than you might think.

According to the folks at HighSpeedInternet.com, California is top among states with the most catfishing victims – followed by Texas, Florida, New York and Pennsylvania. 

However, Michigan is among the states where victims lost the most money to catfishing.

The average cost per scam in Michigan is $20,096.78.

So how do you avoid being catfished?

  • If you haven’t met someone in person and vetted that they are real, never send money. Even if you’ve been so-called “friends” with them for years. 
  • Watch out for someone claiming to be from the U.S. but traveling or working overseas.
  • Watch out for Facebook and Instagram messages from strangers telling you they just had to let you know how beautiful you are. Chances are high they send the same message to hundreds of others. In other words, take care in letting people into your social network and your heart.
  • Remember this tried and true phrase: if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

For more tips about avoiding catfishing and how to report it, visit the online dating scams section of the Federal Trade Commission’s website.

 


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