Catfishing (Cybercrime) Definition
Commonly related to cybercrime, this word was formed from the processes which a fisherman uses to keep catfishes moving after getting them. In the online world, cat fishing refers to the creation of a false identity by a cybercriminal with the intention of defrauding a victim or stealing their information and identity. In other words, a cybercriminal will pose as someone they’re not and use their new identity to wreak havoc. This practice can be categorized under the social engineering scheme where a particular individual or different individuals use different tactics to steal or gain access to a personally identifiable information (PPI) from their unsuspecting victims.
A Litle More on What is Catfishing
Due to over dependence on the internet, most people have voided the traditional way of meeting new people and switch the online method. It’s much easier to make connections online, since you usually get to meet people of similar interest. Most people join different sites for short term relationships as well as long term relationships before they’ll have get to physically meet up with their partners. It is this practice that a cybercriminal exploits, and this allows them t engage in catfishing. Catfishing mostly comes in the form of imagery, where a person will upload the photo of someone else and claim to be that person without revealing their own information. These photos can fake the individuals age, looks, build and any other thing of interest. After this is done, the cybercriminal then builds personal relationships with others and create a fake information for themselves, thus giving the unsuspecting victim a false impression.
Cybercriminals might engage in catfishing due to one or two reasons, and each involvement is sometimes built for something personal. Sometimes, people engage in catfishing for curiosity (they want to see what people perceive another person to be like), for revenge (to attack someone who once offended them, to eliminate boredom (talk to random people without coming out as who they really are, or to eliminate loneliness (this mostly applies to persons who are have low self esteem). Catfishing allows people to escape insecurities about themselves for a moment, and it mostly helps persons with self esteem issues. Catfishing today is quite easy, due to the availability of online spaces. While these spaces are meant for real relationships, abusing them has become a normal occurrence for cybercriminals.
Origin and the Concept behind Catfishing
The term catfishing was made famous by the 2010 MTV documentary titled “Catfish,” although this word has been in use before that. The main event that caused this term to gain widespread fame was when Manti Te’o who played for Notre Dame football club fell victim to a catfishing scheme in 2013. The word “catfishing” was coined from the possibility of fishermen placing catfishes in their cod catch in order to keep them active during transportation as this would make their meats fresh.
Consequences of Catfishing
There are no specific laws against catfishing, and this has made it harder to catch the cybercriminals involved in such crimes. Usually, the victims of such schemes are often emotionally involved before they can treelike what is really going on. As expected, the cybercriminal behind such schemes would always avoid meeting up with the victim by using to be in different restrictive circumstances such as distance or other personal issues.
The effects of catfishing can range from heartbreak to shame and even embarrassment for the victim. In most cases, the victim can bring the catfish to court by providing proof of fraud or emotional distress and other issues. In some cases, the person might file for harassment or even misappropriation of likeness in situations where the cybercriminal makes use of another person’s pictures.
Catfishing should be treated with caution as it poses a security threat to personal information. We’re all advised to treat social messages, emails and texts with caution especially in cases where the senders are not recognized or their names don’t ring a bell.