Impersonators and fake ‘catfish’ accounts
Running this blog and my related accounts on social media involves sharing photos and details about my life publicly, which impersonators (also known as ‘catfish’) sometimes use to create fake profiles and accounts on social media platforms and dating apps, which falsely impersonate me. Impersonation on dating apps is a form of identity fraud known as ‘dating / romance fraud’ and you can find out more official advice about this on Action Fraud’s website (the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cyber crime). The big social media platforms and dating apps also have policies against impersonation, and in extreme cases this kind of fraud can be taken to court and result in fines or prison sentences.
As of February 2021, I have genuine accounts on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Linkedin, all of which are linked to from this blog’s header and right side-bar. I currently have a boyfriend, so I am not active on any dating apps. Separate from those genuine accounts above, I have been informed about fake accounts that impersonate me on platforms including Instagram, Facebook, Hinge, Bumble, Tinder, etc.
If you come across any account/profile other than those linked to from this blog, or if you’re in doubt as to the authenticity of any account that appears to include my name, photos, or other details about myself, then here are some steps you can take to keep yourself safe and report an impersonator:
- Never send money, personal or financial details, or private content/photos to someone you don’t know in person
- Never arrange to meet in person with anyone whose identity you distrust or seems suspicious
- Try a ‘reverse Google image search‘ of the profile’s photos to check if the photos have been stolen from elsewhere on the internet
- Search the internet for other accounts that could verify their identity (eg. Linkedin accounts with full bios and established networks)
- On Instagram, scroll down to check when their first photo was posted, as very new accounts might indicate a fake account (they sometimes post 80 photos in a day to make the account appear older than it is)
- Take screenshots of the profile in question, and note down any phone number used by the impersonator (eg. if the impersonator messages you on Whatsapp)
- Report the suspicious account as ‘fake’, ‘scammer’ or ‘impersonator’ on the platform in question, as all major platforms offer functionality of that kind. The various platforms have successfully deleted numerous such fake accounts in the past, so this approach does work
- Contact me at email@example.com with any details you have collected, so I can also report the fake account to the platform in question, and so I can update Action Fraud and the police, who are aware of this identity fraud
If you’re unsure about any of the above, then do get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.