What Are Catfish?
We've all heard the term, perhaps even seen the the show "MTV's Catfish". They don't only exist on popular social media platforms, they are also prolific on chat sites. A catfish is someone who poses as someone else, sometimes very convincingly, to get romantically involved with someone, or to get sexual photos or videos of someone.
These people target people who are often either highly insecure, or they target individuals who are much younger than themselves. These two things are one in the same in many cases, as being a teenager isn't easy. In the latter case, their endgame is usually that of a sexual purpose; i.e., to get nude photos or videos of their target.
These people can sometimes be very committed to catfishing someone, spending enormous amounts of time to get what they want; weeks, months, even years. You may think you have known a 16 year old since he was 13, and he may actually be 45 and unemployed!
How do I spot a catfish? What are some red flags (warning signs)?
Does the person you're talking to have "no cam" or a "broken cam"? This is one of the biggest red flags that you may be dealing with a catfish. Does the person you're talking to give you a back-story that doesn't quite make sense? That may be a red flag. Does the person refuse to show you a picture of themselves, even if you've shown them one of yourself? That may be a red flag.
Although catfish almost always show these red flags, that doesn't mean every person that does these things is a catfish. If someone says they have no cam or their cam is broken, they might just be insecure about their appearance. This is also the case if they do not want to send you a picture of themselves. Also, of course, everyone has a story, but they usually make sense if they're real. The only way to 100% verify if someone is real if you interact with them on cam in real time, and 321Chat is a cam-enabled chat site!
I think I may have encountered a catfish. What do I do?
If they have sent you a picture, use Google Reverse Image Search, and see if that picture has been posted elsewhere. If it has, it is probably a stolen picture. If you think the person you're talking to is a catfish, take screenshots of the conversation, and any pictures that were sent to you, block them, and report them to a moderator. State your concerns and why you think they may be a catfish, and include any screenshots you may have taken to back up your suspicion.
How can I avoid being the victim?
The safest way to avoid being a victim of a catfish is to register an account, and disable private messages from guest users. Catfish tend to primarily use guest accounts, but this is not always the case. Keep an eye out for the warning signs, and chat safely!
What have we learned?
Be careful who you open up to, but don't be scared! There are plenty of good, legitimate people about, especially on our chatrooms! :) Not everyone that shows these signs is a catfish, but just be careful who you send pictures to that you wouldn't want anyone else to see!