Lonely Hearts Beware: How Catfish Scams Deceive and Destroy

Share this article


Catfish may be unfamiliar vocabulary, and few can envisage themselves having been victims. Catfish is a cybercrime that entices victims to trust strangers who later fleece them with their possessions. The tactics deployed by these criminals vary from a situation to a situation. This telltale intends to revisit Catfish crimes with purposes of bringing more awareness to the potential victims that they may protect themselves against such cybercrime.

Catfish is a mischaracterization of a person’s identity normally through theft of another person, and pretend he is the one. Catfishing aims to deceive the victim to believe, he is talking to the person whose photograph is attached in his online page. Majority of the most notorious catfishes are found in West Africa with other locales doing the catchup.

An average age of a Catfish is in their mid twenties, and are likely to have a tough background and living in a hostile environment. They have experienced hate since they were brought into this world. They feel neglected, abused and unloved.

It is a deadly combination eager to revenge to those who are powerless to insulate themselves against the crimes. With the access to simplistic web skills, the scammers join messaging apps and begin to prowl them in search for potential victims!

Read Related: Just an Alert: Social Engineering Poses a New Threat to Your Security!

Ironically, the scammers know the pangs of loneliness, abandonment and being disregarded. Their intuition of the plight of the lonely hearts happens to be their weapon of mass destruction: WMD. Potential victims are also in the hunt for lonely hearts genuinely scavenging for a soul harbouring similar emotions.

The Catfish normally is the one to take that frightening step of reaching out. In their resume, they paint themselves as successful businesspeople loaded with cash, sometimes claiming widower or divorcee that assures a sense of looking for belonging somewhere.

The victims blinded by their own insecurities, the excitements and joy of hooking up with such a gorgeous man, swallow the hook, the bait and the sinker all at once. All premonition for danger are flagged out as nailing down a love nest take precedence. Scammers are naive and inefficient but to their delight their intended victims never figure it out until it is too late to back off.

Scammers who bragged of insane riches all of sudden confront their virtual lovers with insurmountable problems whose solution is only cash. Some will claim to have a legal situation that needs cash injection, therefore their new love is under duress to clear the bill.

No sooner the bill is settled than another one appears, and the extortion goes on and on until the victim declares bankruptcy. In such scenarios, the victim never gets a one on one pillow talk but if she is luck will get an audio tête-à-tête that neither confirms the identity of the scammer nor reassures the victim.

In more sophisticated cases, the scammer strikes a sextortion that sounds like a Hollywood movie. The scammer prepares the victim thoroughly well through massaging her bloated ego, sooth her insecurities while promising a wedding only sanctioned in heaven. The victim’s heart opens up, and until her bank account has been milked dry and thrown out of the bus she will never know she is being scammed.

Most of the victims tend to be older, well-to-do white women who are primarily divorced or widows in search for a new flame little do they know exactly their predicaments appeal to their scammers. In issues of love, all guards thay should alerted the victim are discarded but later to be remembered with weeping.

Cases of scammers asking for nudity photos of their potential victims are also growing. Once in possession of those steamy photos then the sextortion comes to play thay little dirty game of blackmail amd extortion. The victims are threatened with exposure or else they part with substantial amounts of money to keep their shame away from those who love and care for them. In such scenarios gender alternates: a man pretends to be a woman and vice versa.

In a particular case I am aware of, a young man pretended to be a woman, and stole the identity of a beautiful woman to seal his case. The young white man was impressed to see he was dating online a woman of his wildest dreams. The fake woman pressured him to send her nudity photos of himself. The man resisted but the fake woman pressed him amore to his eventual capitulation. Do you remember how mighty Samson was subdued by the persistence of two philistine women?

The first woman nagged Samson to death over a riddle he had told his friends to crack wide open. We know Delilah said to Samson unless he revealed the source of his power then he did not love her! Samson was pushed to the cliffhanger of proving and validate his love for her by undermining himself amounting to personal sacrifice. This is how the scammers ultimately defeat all kinds of resistances that still linger on in their potential victims.

Also, read Cyberbullying Education: Impacts, Legal Complexities, and Countermeasures

Once the nudity photos have been shared then the scammers are empowered to blackmail their victims until the latter can take it no more. In most cases, after squeezing plenty of cash the scammer threatens consequences if the victim report their clandestine affairs to the authorities. Through a blanket of silence scammers are protected feom facing the long arm of the governments involved. The scammers are emboldened to pick another victim because few are aware of their criminal schemes, and therefore lack the tools t expose them that they may account for their nefarious activities.

The rate of suicide among the victims is also rising. Once his by scammers, the victims lives are turned upside-down. Some fund they have no money to support themselves or meeting mortgage or credit card obligations leaving their credit status very much in a turmoil. As a result, some are evicted feom their homes and become homeless while others find their medical underlying issues cannot be attended to as funds were stolen.

Some catfishes are very sophisticated and have turned into AI and deep fake to assume video identities of decision makers and deploy those functionality to steal money from banks and other organizations. It is becoming clear video conferencing is no longer a straightforward matter.

One could be the only real person in a chat room while the rest are machines programmed to deceive him as coworkers or superiors who are issuing instructions where to wire substantial amounts of cash. Later it is found out nobody whom he thought was video conferencing with him was real!

Cybercrime is a growing concern amd the tools to deal with it are chasing the shadows. So it is up to us to apply logic and commonsense to raise red flags when accosted with scammers. In general, anything too good to be true is most likely deepfake, that is my golden rule of association.

The author is a Development Administration specialist in Tanzania with over 30 years of practical experience, and has been penning down a number of articles in local printing and digital newspapers for some time now.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Leave a comment
scroll to top