Are you being hooked by a dating catfisher?


So often, students swipe right without even thinking about who could really be behind that pretty face.

Because of how popular online dating is today, “catfishing” has become an increasing issue.

“Catfishing is when you meet somebody online and it turns out they are not who they portrayed themselves to be,” said Toronto dating coach and matchmaker Shannon Tebb.

Tebb says that students talk to people online for different reasons.

“I think since they’re on their phones so much of the time that online dating is an easy route, such as Tinder, or using those apps,” said Tebb. “It’s instantaneous, it’s quick, and if someone rejects them, they can just move on to the next. Also, a lot of the time they’re busy studying so they may not have time to get out there and meet people or they’re too shy or they may not have the skill set.”


Tinder is amongst the many apps that when using, students run the risk of being catfished. Photo taken by Olivia Little.

Tinder is amongst the many apps that when using, students run the risk of being catfished. Photo taken by Olivia Little.

First-year Veterinary Technician student Julia Steele 20, says she used the internet to get to know people from the area before she moved to Brampton to go to Davis Campus.

“Mostly, I used social networking like Instagram and Twitter. I used once too. That was the only one that I thought was remotely okay. You pay for it so you don’t get a whole lot of crazy people, but more people who want actual relationships,” said Steele.

Nonetheless, she was catfished on

Steele started talking to a supposed Architectural student.

“I was going through people that lived in the area and I saw that he went to Sheridan,” she said. “And he was cute.

“We made jokes of how I used to play with Lego as a kid, I was like, ‘Oh, I used to do architecture too!’ He just seemed like a normal person to talk to.”

It was when she asked for his Snapchat that she noticed something was off.

“I asked him, ‘Why are you so sketched out about Snapchat, if you have pictures of you all over Match?’ ” said Steele. “He had about 30 pictures on his profile.”

He told Steele that he thought Snapchat was too “unprofessional.”

“He then said that he didn’t actually go to Davis. He used to, but he graduated four years ago,” she says. “He was actually just some older guy. When he went to Davis, he was a mature student.”

He eventually confessed to Steele that he stole all of his profile photos from a student he had found in the Sheridan Facebook group, who was in fact, an Architectural student.

“He made a fake profile on, pretending to be that student, to meet college girls,” Steele said.

Steele no longer does online dating. “It made me think, if that can happen on a paid website, I don’t want it. I don’t want that.

“You need to make sure that the person you’re talking to is actually who they say they are. Because even though in college, you’re an adult, it’s still really creepy if someone is lying about who they are,” said Steele. “By definition, they’re an internet predator. I guess I learned that internet predators aren’t just (looking) for little kids. It can be for adults, too.”

Tebb says it’s important to take precautions and always be careful about what you share online.

“With online dating, you don’t want to give too much information out. If someone messages you and is digging for dirt, just give a limited response. Meet the guy in person, to get to know him and then you can share more,” said Tebb.

“If you’re a single girl living in the city and the guy’s like, ‘Oh, where do you live?’ Don’t give away your address and make sure to meet in a public place. As well, let a girlfriend know where you’re going.”

Larissa Bablack, 36, a Sociology student at York University, says that when she was young and online dating, things were much more secretive.

“Hardly anybody did that and if you did, you kept it secret. That allowed for a lot of bad things to happen, because it wasn’t so much in the open,” said Bablack.

She says that she once travelled to New York City to meet up with someone she was talking to online. Because of the stigma around online dating she didn’t tell anyone.

“Thankfully it ended up being okay but if I were to do that now, I wouldn’t have lied about it. I would be like, ‘This is what I’m doing. This is where I’m meeting this person, and here’s the information for this person.’ I think it’s a little bit more out in the open, a little bit more accepted,” said Bablack.

Bablack says that catfishing can be unintentional.

“If someone wants to be viewed as someone who is very environmental, and vegetarian, all of these things that go along with a certain type of identity, they will highlight those online,” Bablack said. “I don’t think they’re doing it on purpose. That might be what they aspire to, so they put themselves down as that.”

Steele thinks that it’s a lack of confidence that causes people to lie online.

“People don’t think that people will like them. As cheesy as it sounds, it’s all about low self-esteem. (My catfish) told me, ‘People don’t like me so I pretend to be someone else. So maybe I’ll be attractive to girls and they’ll want to talk to me,’ ” said Steele.

Tebb agrees. “They lie about it because they want to meet somebody and maybe they feel like if they’re honest, they’ll be rejected. So by creating this new persona, it allows them to open up to new possibilities.”

Another dangerous aspect of catfishing is people trying to get money from their victims.

“I have been on the receiving end of that with men who want to get access to money or get help financially,” said Bablack. “I have also heard a lot of horror stories from other people. I know my friend’s mother was taken for a lot of money by an individual from the States.”

Tebb says that some warning signs to look out for are they have limited photos of themselves on their profile, have nothing to share when you ask for a photo, or if they are all about image and constantly looking for photos of you.

“Do your research. If you have the full name, don’t be afraid to do a search and see what you come up with on Facebook. Nowadays you can do some investigating ahead of time.”

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