Catfishing may seem like a phrase used by fishermen but in reality, it originated from a documentary film titled “Catfish” released in 2010. It is a metaphorical term used to describe someone who creates a fake identity online to lure others into relationships. So what is catfishing;  In simple terms, it is an act of pretending to be someone else with the intent to manipulate. 

But one may wonder; why would someone choose the path of catfishing? Well, psychologists proclaim that certain motivations and factors lead someone to behave in this manner. So let’s discuss each of them discretely. 

Motivations Behind Catfishing

The following are some of the motivations behind catfishing;

  1. Low self-esteem

People often tend to escape reality if it doesn’t align with their expectations and hopes. In an attempt to pursue a version of themselves that they wish they had, they tend to create a fake version of a person they idealized. This low self-esteem motivates them to steal photos or create from scratch a fictional backstory to overcome their shortcomings. 

  1. Seeking attention

Low self-esteem often compels people to become attention seekers. Feeling liked and admired becomes their driving force. The online world allows them to create a place where they can build a personality that postulates attention and validation, something that they might lack in their lives.

  1. Thrill-seeking personality

Apart from seeking attention, catfishing scams are also motivated by an insatiable desire for adventure and entertainment. Some might are not faking to manipulate for financial gains, but just doing it for the sake of doing it. This activity gives them a thrill, pleasure, or high which is difficult to find somewhere else. 

  1. Financial motivations

Financial exploitation is a major motivating factor that leads to catfishing. Catfishers tend to indulge in scams or fraudulent activities. They create fake profiles of themselves to build a certain level of trust. This allows them to manipulate their victims into sending them their personal information or in the worst case, money. So if someone asks you; “is catfishing illegal?” then yes, when it comes to financial exploitation, it is. 

  1. Revenge

It may seem like a scenario out of a movie where a person who had been bullied in high school might create a false identity to seek revenge on his bully. But in reality, this does happen. Some catfishers are motivated by revenge. They indulge in activities online that exploit or tarnish the reputation of the person they are impersonating. 

  1. Sexual Harassment 

Sexual predators take the personality of someone else in an attempt to pursue their dream girl or guy. Because they cannot attract their desired individual, impersonating an ideal person might give them the courage to do so. On the other hand, some catfishers often create identities to find their sexual personas. It gives them the sense of living a life they wished they had, but could never in real life. 

Now that we have discussed what factors motivate people to catfish, it’s imperative to discuss strategies that allow people to prevent becoming victims of catfishing.

How To Avoid Being Catfished

Catfishing fraud might be tricky for some people to avoid but there are ways one can adopt to protect oneself online.

Be Prepared

One can prepare oneself by looking for inconsistencies in the profile of a catfish. He may tend to lie about his educational background or even hobbies. You just need to pay attention to details that need to be clarified. For instance, if a person describes his personality as outgoing or friendly, but might have a limited online profile with very few friends or poss, This will show an inconsistency. 

Dont rush

Catfishers have a habit of moving things quickly. This should be a red flag. Try not to rush into forming deep emotional connections with someone, especially online. It’s better to take your time to know someone and do a proper background check before you can fully trust them. 

Protect yourself at all times

Before a combat match, referees often instruct the fighters to protect themselves at all times. Similarly, in the online realm, one needs to protect oneself and one’s information at all times. It is recommended to never share your details, or send any revealing photos that could be misused for blackmail or emotional manipulation. 

Do not shy away from seeking help

If you are unaware of the intricacies of catfishing meaning, it’s better to seek help. If you ever suspect that you are being catfished, it’s better to get an outside perspective. Moreover, a majority of online platforms have a well-established mechanism to report fraudulent activities or fake profiles. Hence, immediately take action to report that catfish profile to the platform.


Online communication is an effective way to meet new people. However, one needs to be aware of the phenomena of catfishing so that the risk of being catfished can be minimized. Proper strategies need to be implemented so that one can enjoy safe interactions.

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