Catfish and Con Artists

It used to be that to steal your  money mostly somebody would show you a weapon in a deserted place if you were unfortunate enough or perhaps unobservant enough to be there. But you might also just live in one of those places too. That, of course, still happens every day.

But the less thuggish and more clever of the sticky handed members of society long ago perfected means of playing on people’s greed and sometimes charity to obtain money not rightfully their’s and those people we call con artists or swindlers. Everything from cheating at card games to coating lead to look like gold, convincing an old woman that her money will double in a ponzi scheme to Bernie Madoff. Just because you’re a thief doesn’t mean you can’t be handsome and wearing Armani or beautiful in Chanel.

These days the favored locale is the internet. There are a bunch of reasons:

  • There’s no physical contact, no risk of the crook getting beaten up or shot
  • The bad actors are often in another country like Russia or Eastern Europe where we have little or no ability to extradite or cooperation with law enforcement. Indeed the activity is often encouraged.
  • The lack of contact allows even more inventive personas to be created since the victim isn’t even present

I’m going to concentrate on what catfish do, but let’s start with something we have all been told before:

If it seems to good to be true that’s because it is

The next thing is what most dating sites post, and it is really important that you follow it:

Don’t provide personal contact information, personally identifiable information, where you live or any other compromising information to another party without getting to know them in person first. Preferably more than once.

The dating sites have reasonable email systems just for this purpose. Exchange first names, chat, meet for dates. Be safe about the dates though. Make sure someone knows that you’re having one, where and when.

Catfish

I won’t name the specific site I was using. This kind of thing can happen on any site and will be more common on free sites than paid ones. The act of paying forces things like credit card transactions and those generally verify information like addresses and phone numbers.

A typical catfish goes in several stages. The first stage is usually flattery. Something like “You’re so pretty”, “Hello beautiful”. Then words like “darling” or other words indicating closeness or trust. They are hoping that by “showing” you trust and attraction through the use of words that you’ll come to believe that they actually are feeling these things.

Most people will mirror others. It is hard to resist the feeling of being given affection, especially when you are in middle or old age and the person who is providing it claims to be half your age. These bastards specifically pray on people who are more likely to be desperate and hopeless.

The next stage is establishing trust. They try and get you to talk, to tell them what you do so they can use that in deciding what kind of attack they are going to use.

The last stage, which can go on for years is the tease. They can spend years on the verge of coming to see you, always needing a few hundred or thousand dollars for travel or something. There are stories of people being taken for hundreds of thousands of dollars by these vermin.

Defenses

First, do they claim to have grown up in the US but use English with weird idioms and not really reply to things you say? A huge red flag. It means they are not fluent and are working from a script.

Ask them early where they are. They are often not where the dating app says they are. Many of those who contacted me claimed to be in the army. I suppose a lot of lesbians join up? No idea. They mix old facts and try and use them as contemporary, but any real checking will show them up.

Example 1: Claims to be in Afghanistan. OK, what base? Camp Edwards (that’s in the continental us, the base in Afghanistan is Camp Eggers).

Example 2: Claims to be in Nigeria. Um the US army has no presence in Nigeria. If you check, we were there in 2012.

Of course I just tell anyone who claims to be living thousands of miles away that I’ll be her pen pal. I want a partner I can squeeze and go to bed with. Don’t you? Isn’t that part of the point?

Ask them for a selfie, if they argue with you deep six them. If their pictures look old and   grainy be suspicious, no camera phone image is going to look like that (at least not all of them). If they do send you a selfie, is it really a selfie or taken by someone else?

Any of the following, before you have appropriate reasons for trust, should make you block someone:

  • What appear to be serious professions of an emotion they could not possibly feel based on the several messages you’ve passed back and forth
  • An offering of trust, especially in connection with any kind of financial exchange
  • Any request for money
  • Any request for travel
  • Any other request or statement that seems odd
  • Any returned information about their job that doesn’t correspond to what you know (if you know about such work)

As for me? Well I turned off that site. For now I’m giving boys a chance and that will probably go on for at least six months. Unfortunately girls have to have feelings to have, well, “feelings” if you get my drift.

Feelings, nothing more than feelings,….

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