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Wondering about catfishing and why is it called catfishing? Learn all that you need to know, including ways to protect yourself from this devious online scam.

One of the most common dubious activities in the world of the internet is catfishing. It is estimated that one in five people on the internet have been victims of some form of catfishing scam on the internet.

But while such a large number of people often fall victim to this malicious activity, many still do not know what this scam exactly is, how it works, and how to avoid falling victim to it. Even though some basic safety measures can prevent a person from much wasted time and other problems.

So in today’s blog, we will talk in detail about catfishing, how these scams work, and even answer the question ‘Why is it called catfishing’.


So what is catfishing? Catfishing refers to someone when someone fools another person on the internet by setting up a fake identity with some ulterior motive. These people tend to trick people into believing that they are in a genuine online friendship or even relationship with a certain person when the reality might be extremely different.

The Origin of the Phrase ‘Catfishing’

While many people are aware of the term catfishing itself, they do not know where the term originates from. Let us clear that up for you.

So for those wondering the question: why is it called catfishing? The term it seems originates from a documentary released back in 2010 with the same name. It involved a man named ‘Nev Schulman’, who was in a relationship with a woman online who had the name, Megan. This woman turned out to actually be someone called Angela, a married middle-aged mother of children.

The term itself originates from the name that Angela’s husband used to call her. As the story goes, when large batches of codfish were being sent from the cold reaches of Alaska to China, a catfish was placed in the vats to keep them active, lively, and subsequently healthy.

Angela’s husband thus called her the catfish of their family, in that she makes the lives of those around her lively and exciting. And thus the term extended to the action of what we today know as ‘catfishing’.

Catfishing: Legality

Now you might be wondering, is catfishing illegal? Well, the answer is slightly more complex than you might think.

If we talk purely about using a manufactured identity online, there is nothing illegal about that. In fact, it is quite common for people to be using up either partially or completely made-up personas on online platforms. Being able to create your own identity is thought to be one of the fundamental characteristics of the internet.

But there are cases when it can become illegal. This is when catfishing leads to some other illegal activity. A common version of this is when someone uses a fake identity to ask or extort money from an individual, committing fraud, which in this case would be referred to as catfishing fraud.

Protecting Yourself from Online Catfishing Scams

With how common these scams are, it is important to protect yourself from one to make sure you are not taken advantage of. So here are some tips to make sure you do not fall victim to an online catfishing scam.

1) Check their photos

One of the most common tactics of people who are committing catfishing scams is to use images of attractive-looking individuals that they have found online. So, a good idea would be to reverse image search their images to see if they pop up under a different name. It might even be possible that there end up being many different accounts, each with a different name, but all using the same profile picture.

2) Check if your interests seem to align significantly

A well-thought-out online catfishing scam will do quite in-depth research into a potential victim, especially their online activity. If the person seems to know a surprising amount about you, or if you ‘coincidentally’ seem to share an oddly large amount of common interests or hobbies, it might be possible that you are the victim of a scam.

The reality is that no human being has everything. So generally speaking, if things seem to be ‘perfect’ like the person is the exact dream partner you are looking for, then that is probably an indication that you need to be cautious.

3) What does their social media presence look like?

Catfishing profiles are often created and molded specifically for that purpose. What that means is that the profile will likely not have what might be a more natural-seeming presence online. Check how many friends they have, the number of friends, what interactions with their friends look like if there are any at all, and if they seem unrealistic.

Closing Thoughts

While catfishing is one of the most prevalent online scams being committed on a day-to-day basis, some basic caution when going about online interactions can make it so that you and the people around you are protected from this scam.