Catfishing, how does it work?
June 13, 2018 8:32 AM   Subscribe

On OKC recently, I have had two situations which I assume I was being catfished. My question: how does catfishing actually work or play out, once initial contact is made? What is the ultimate angle?

Scenario 1: I get liked by someone. That someone is new to OKC, or at least has never shown up in my searches before. Skimpy, vague profile, nothing to latch onto other than photos. The photos are of an attractive woman, but have a girl-next-door quality – this is a person who could exist in the real world. I run my searches again, and cannot confirm that she is actually in town. But, late night and a bit of drink in me, I messaged her. We got to chatting, and she escalated into sexually explicit messages very quickly. She wanted for us to switch to Snapchat. I am not on Snapchat. I resisted, she kept pushing, I decided that this was all too good to be true, and bailed. The next morning, her profile disappeared.

Scenario 2: I get liked by someone. Again, that someone is new to OKC, and has never appeared in my searches. Profile is skimpy, hardly any details, and her personal statement reads only that she is “loyal”. Again, pretty tempting photos. Usually when someone new shows up, it takes a day or so before the whole profile appears after being vetted (or something), so I didn't respond.

Her profile lists her as being in my hometown, but I cannot confirm that, as she doesn’t show up in my local search. Looking at the photos, it doesn't look like anywhere local (which may or may not indicate anything). One photo has her trying on a dress, and in the window, you can read the name of the store. I googled it. It's somewhere in sunny California.

So this looks like something the same -- steal an attractive ‘real life’ woman's photos, pose as someone local, and then... what? That's the part I can't figure out. What would have happened if I had gone onto Snapchat? Bug planted in my phone? Is this a long-con?

In general, how does catfishing actually play out?
posted by Capt. Renault to Human Relations (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
There are people who are in it for some kind of emotional payoff, and then there are people who are just after your $$$. "Oh, my mom was just in a car accident, I want to help her but I can't afford the repairs..." That sort of thing. There are a truly amazing number of people who will fall for that sort of thing after only a few months of chatting.
posted by praemunire at 8:36 AM on June 13, 2018 [11 favorites]

People go on snapchat because they want to verify that you/they are real. It's probably a good sign that someone isn't catfishing. Instead, it's a horniness thing b/c snapchat is better for sexting.

On snapchat they could always screenshot your messages or take a pic. But generally, snapchat is more for real people who want to talk to other real people. It's very hard to fake sending a snapchat for various app-related reasons.

Women get horny too, is my guess on the first one.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 8:39 AM on June 13, 2018 [2 favorites]

Best answer: In general, people catfish for the same reason they fake any kind of illness or relationship. But when a hot girl tries to get a dude horny out of nowhere --- AND she's fake, which is not necessarily the case every time this happens --- it's likely that she's some kind of camgirl or similar sex worker looking for clients.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 8:40 AM on June 13, 2018 [10 favorites]

Best answer: Blackmail is another possible/semi-viable angle. Screencap compromising messages or pics, threaten to send to spouse, boss, pastor, etc., whatever they figure you're afraid of.
posted by SaltySalticid at 8:42 AM on June 13, 2018 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Yeah, seconding camgirl. They will ask you to Venmo or Paypal money in exchange for explicit stuff on Snapchat. The pictures may very well be real, so it's not necessarily catfishing (in which they're posing as someone they're not).
posted by quiet coyote at 8:59 AM on June 13, 2018 [7 favorites]

Best answer: OkCupid is being flooded by these. They want you to sign up for their cam site. I was on there recently and many were popping up daily then vanishing.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 9:01 AM on June 13, 2018 [5 favorites]

The profile isn't necessarily gone. It could be that you're blocked because they weren't happy with your not playing along. Ask a friend who's on there to search and see if they see it.

Or, it could have been deleted by the system after multiple people flagged it as suspicious, assuming they were having similar conversations with multiple people.
posted by dobbs at 9:01 AM on June 13, 2018 [3 favorites]

Women soliciting their services, no question. It is very lucrative. They are also very pushy and competitive about their services (to the point where they will find other women's pages and flag them, so there will be less competition to deal with).
posted by Melismata at 9:29 AM on June 13, 2018

If she's not a camgirl then maybe it turns out she was in town when she first contacted you but now because of unavoidable unfortunate events that were not her fault she's two towns over in some unsavory and maybe not entirely safe living situation and she is in love with you and you are the only happy thing in her life and she needs you to send her money for a bus ticket so she can come see you, or she has the money but it's a check that she needs you to cash because she doesn't have a bank account or the nearest bank is too far to get to, and she asks you to cash the check and send her the bus money and keep whatever's left over. Oh, she's sorry it bounced; she for sure thought the check was legit but it turns out her brother's girlfriend's dad's boss is not on the up and up and she will make it up to you if she can just get to your town, maybe you could get the ticket and send it to her if you don't trust her with money...? After a month or two of silence she writes hey, stranger, been a while, I was just thinking of you, things have gone from bad to worse here, but I keep your image in my heart and it helps me get by this is a picture of a baby kitten I adopted who lives in my cleavage I have told her all about you and we want to come see you soonest! Repeat every few weeks 'til your slot gets filled with a dupable mark. Source: my social worker friend who has a client who gets embroiled in these over and over again with "women" who work in what I figure are giant warehouses doing basically data entry where they type versions of the same stories and send endless hotgirl pictures to an enormous stable of American guys. I embellished that there were six or eight models on staff to be the various invented fantasy girls. Like, "Hey, Daphne, I'm on with Victor 6; I told him I'm just about to step into the shower. When you get done with that feet one for Dan 18, can you run do a quick TIMPS?" (topless in the mirror pout selfie)
posted by Don Pepino at 11:22 AM on June 13, 2018 [21 favorites]

If OKCupid is being flooded by these just now, it's probably because FOSTA-SESTA has cut into a lot of women's ability to earn a living, and people are looking to increase their income from cam work because they can still do that. If this is the case, well, obviously you don't want to start paying someone when you're looking for an actual relationship, but think of them with some sympathy.
posted by Frowner at 11:25 AM on June 13, 2018 [27 favorites]

I guess I should point out that I recognized at least two as famous Instagram stars who were definitely not in my midwest city. They all have a variation on a few profiles that is one paragraph and were either 50% or 97% match. They're not the people in the photos. Tinder was full of some website called dtf something or other last time I was on there. It's pretty obvious when you notice the one paragraph profiles are the same text.

It's not a new problem. I've been seeing this stuff anytime I've been single and looked at online dating. But I just moved to a new city so I was trying it out recently.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 12:04 PM on June 13, 2018 [1 favorite]

I recently had an experience with this on OKC. I wasn't a hundred percent sure so I stuck with it a little. It finally got too ridiculous when "she" told me she was an art dealer originally from London who happens to be living in NC for reasons but travels the world for her job.

I'm sure if I would have kept at it inevitably I would have gotten the "OMG, I am stuck in Nigeria without enough money for a plane ticket home" message.

Dating sites are made for other people apparently.
posted by Justin Case at 12:24 PM on June 13, 2018 [2 favorites]

There are a truly amazing number of people who will fall for that sort of thing after only a few MINUTES of chatting.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 12:51 PM on June 13, 2018 [3 favorites]

I agree that they're camgirls, but I've also been approached by ridiculously goodlooking guys (I'm gay) 20 years my junior who think I'll be their sugar daddy.
posted by AFABulous at 2:45 PM on June 13, 2018 [1 favorite]

The (ex)husband of a couple I hung out with socially for a while was blackmailed. He was regularly sexting/videos with someone and I guess he went as far as friending her on Facebook before she dropped the hammer. Video went out to all his family and friends.
posted by bonobothegreat at 9:05 PM on June 13, 2018

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