Finding out that you are being catfished is a truly devastating feeling, and we want to help you get through it.
If you are pretty certain you are being catfished and looking for steps on what to do next, this is the guide for you!
Step 1: Do a Little Research to Support your Hypothesis
If you are starting to see through the cracks in your partner’s stories or maybe you are swimming in a sea of red flags and obvious lies, it is time to do some research.
First, use a reverse image search engine to search for any images they have sent you. Check to see if those photos show results from the internet. They may show up on another person’s social media, a stock photo website, a modeling site, or any number of places.
Check your results against your partner’s stories. For instance, if the image shows up on a modeling agency and your partner has previously claimed to be a model working for that agency, there may be no need to worry. However, if your partner’s photo shows up on a social media page for someone by a different name, that is a pretty good indication that you are being catfished.
You can also reverse search any phone numbers provided by your partner to seek out information about the owner of the phone number.
If all else fails, consider hiring a private investigator to snoop out this information for you.
Step 2: Take Your Last Shot Then Cut Your Losses
If your search returned results you are unhappy with, it is okay to give your partner one chance to justify themselves. Do not tell them you think they are a catfish or that you think they are lying to you.
Instead, approach them very matter of factly.
“I am concerned that you never want to video chat with me and I don’t like that you tell me stories that don’t make sense. If you are not willing to video chat with me and discuss this issue, I am not moving forward with this relationship.”
Step 3: Block them and Report Them
If Step 2 confirms for you that you have been Catfished, it is time to block and report. Delete their phone number, email, and any other way they can contact you. Take screenshots of your communications if necessary.
Then, head to the dating app where you met them and report their account to the moderators.
If they have erased their account, you can send your screenshots of their profile photo and fake name to the mods to warn them anyway.
Step 4: Change any Pertinent Information They May Have
You never realise how much information a scammer can get from you without you realizing it. You need to protect yourself by changing all your passwords and PINs. You may even want to consider changing your phone number if you are worried they will contact you through different means.
Step 5: Report The Scammer to Action Fraud or the Internet Crime Complaint Center
If you are in the UK, you can report your Catfish to Action Fraud. They may want to see all your screenshots and hear information about how you determined you were being catfished.
For those in the US, you can report your Catfish to the Internet Crimes Complaint Center (IC3) which is run by the FBI.
Both entities focus on keeping the public safe from scammers, even romance scammers. People are scammed by these people every single day, so never let your embarrassment keep you from reporting them to the property authorities.
The Final and Most Important Step to Confronting your Catfish – You Don’t
You can report your catfish to the FBI, the police, Action Fraud, and the dating sites or social media apps they use to scam, but there is zero reason to personally confront your Catfish.
It can feel empowering to rip into your scammer and you may be thinking about all the things you’d say to them, but at the end of the day your scammer is a criminal. You do not want to confront or attack them, as it may lead to a dangerous situation for you.
You may be harmed or even end up with a stalker, which is the absolute last thing you want to happen after dealing with a Catfish.
Let the proper authorities deal with your Catfish, and give yourself time to grieve and move on from the pain they caused.
How to Heal from being Catfished
No matter how it ends, losing a relationship can be devastating. Some people who have been catfished say the pain feels like a lover dying because the person they fell in love with no longer exists (or never existed to begin with).
You may need to seek therapy or counseling to help overcome your feelings and learn the coping mechanisms to help you move on and learn to trust again.
How to Avoid Being Catfished in the Future
People who have been catfished tend to struggle with dating in the future because they are worried about it happening to them again. To keep yourself safe, follow a few basic rules for avoiding romance scams:
- If someone is feeding you grandiose stories, make them prove themselves – “Oh, you have visited 20 different countries? I’d love to see pictures of you in them!”
- If your partner wants to treat your relationship like a commitment, make them meet you in person – “I’d love to make this official, but only if we can celebrate it by going out for dinner.”
- Run a background check on any digital romances – “I have dealt with scammers before, so I will need to run a background check on you before I feel comfortable continuing this relationship.”
- Remember the Golden Rule – If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Written By: Matthew J. Seymour, MSF
Matthew J. Seymour is a dating industry expert with over a decade of experience coaching singles, reviewing dating apps, and analyzing trends within the industry. Matt is a published author with his most recent work “Get More Dates: How to Master Online Dating Apps” that hit shelves in 2023. With a Masters of Science in Finance (MSF) degree from the University of Florida and extensive knowledge of the innerworkings of the online dating industry, Matt frequently serves in an advisory role to some of the largest dating apps on the market. In Matt’s current role with Healthy Framework, he leads the interview team that regularly interviews key dating industry leaders, and leverages his financial knowledge and dating app experience to review and share what singles need to know to get the most out of dating online.
Reviewed By: Detective Nicholas Nalder
Detective Lieutenant Nicholas Nalder is an investigations lieutenant with the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office. Det. Nalder has over a decade of experience with law enforcement with specialized experience working with internet safety, online investigations, and digital forensics. When it comes to online dating, it’s imperative that users know which dating apps are the safest and how to keep themselves safe online. Det. Nadler works with the Healthy Framework editorial team to help make this a reality by reviewing the safety of dating app recommendations, as well as any article dealing with how to keep yourself safe. Det. Nadler has a Bachelors in Criminal Justice Administration, Information Technology, and Cyber Security, an Associates Degree in Criminal Justice, and a Certified Ethical Hacker (CHE) distinction from Columbia Southern University.