Cat-fishing: Deception online

Over the last few decades,  dating and fundraising has changed drastically. People are now able to go on the internet and search for a romantic partner who has the same interests and life goals as themselves.  1 out of every 10 American’s have used an online or mobile dating website, and 6% of all American marriages met online. One of the most widely used dating websites is Match. Crowd fundraising is also now frequently used on social media platforms in order to raise money. One popular site to do this is called GofundMe.  The ability to hide behind a computer developed a new concept: Cat fishing. According to Merriam-Webster, Cat fishing is “a person who sets up a false personal profile on a social networking site for fraudulent or deceptive purposes”. Purposefully setting up Cat fishing is when people create deceptive identities online using a fake name, fake photographs, and fake personal information.

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According to Dr. Phil’s website, he gives a few helpful tips on how to spot a catfisher online. One of the pieces of advice he gives is to avoid people who’s profiles have no pictures. Also, people in the modeling profession should be taken with caution. If a person has fewer than 100 Facebook friends, and if there are not other people tagged in the photos, this is also a red flag that the images may be stolen. One of the most frequent abuses of social media involves cat fishing with traumatic illnesses and injuries. When we hear of a traumatic injury that often seems too huge, this is a red flag.

 

One example of a catfish story that went to extreme lengths is the story of Warrior Eli. On mothers day, a Facebook post went viral.

The Dirr family’s story is one of grandeur. They are a fiticious family of 11 children, one of which is fighting for his life against cancer for the 4th time. On Mother’s Day, Eli’s pregnant mother died in a car accident. Thankfully the baby survived. After nothing was seen on the news when this story would usually be widely publicized online, there was speculation raised.  That same day, the entire families social media accounts were deleted due to the creation of a blog called Warrior Eli Hoax.

It was discovered  that JRs Twins were the children of a blogger in Australia.

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As time went on, they found more and more lies. It is estimated that there was at least 71 fake Facebook profiles made to prove her legitimacy.  This was puzzling to many followers of Eli’s family, who saw the great extent that they went in order to deceive. The family had set up a blog going back for 5 years, a myspace filled with online photo sharing, and and a yahoo answers account posting questions about babysitters.

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This came to a huge upset by many people on the internet, especially the hundreds of families with their own dying children who went to comfort the Dirr family. Thankfully, the lying has been stopped and the perpetrator has been identified.

 

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