The term ‘catfish’ is used to describe someone who has used a fake or stolen identity for the purpose of beginning deceptive in online relationships. These ‘catfishes’ are found anywhere from normal dating websites to social media apps like Instagram, Snapchat or Twitter. These scams usually begin with the scammer contacting people through social media and demonstrating interest in someone. Then they persuade their victim into loaning them money because of a sudden emergency. Sometimes, scammers can lure people in so much that they will want to meet in person.
“We were on Instagram, and he just started texting me out of the blue and he had an entire profile set up… we had been talking for a month and a half before he had told me he was coming to the Deer Park area and he wanted to meet up. At first I was a little hesitant… but then I was like, I really like him and he seems to really like me, so, let’s meet up. So we went to [Dow Park], where the baseball parks are. I was walking, and I saw him, but I didn’t know it was him at the time. I was looking for this 16-year-old blonde boy.” Said Kayla Johns, a junior at Deer Park High School.
This deception happens to people everywhere, regardless of age, gender, or sexual orientation. In John’s case, this boy she went to meet, supposedly named Eric, just wanted to meet up and talk in person.
“When I first saw him, I was like, ‘oh, you’re not who you say you are, you’re older.’” And then it goes to the questioning of his goals when he started asking me to go the motel with him. Then it went to the straight up fear of him pushing me towards the car… and then to the running for my life, because I have no idea what this man is capable of.”
Teenagers sometimes believe that they are invincible. They hear about things on the news, but don’t ever expect these things to happen to them. But when it does happen, it’s an entirely different feeling. Online dating is not a bad thing, but realizing the risks can be the difference between life and death.