WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- Westchester County District Attorney Janet DiFiore has issued an alert to residents regarding catfishing, or when Internet predators pose as someone other than themselves.
A catfish is intentionally deceptive when creating a profile on social media like on Facebook or on many popular dating sites, DiFiore said. This deception can be very intricate and usually involves the use of fake photos, fake biographies and sometimes erecting a fake supporting network as well, DiFiore said.
DiFiore said catfishing is often used to establish a romantic connection through social media in order to build relationships because those creating the fake ID are bored, lonely or seeking to commit a crime.
Recently an Ardsley man was charged for using Internet dating sites to target establish professional women. In this case, the man misrepresented everything about himself including the fact that he was an advisor to the president of the United States to being a multi-millionaire, according to DiFiore.
Over a three-year period, the man convinced victims to loan him close to $200,000 with the lie that his assets had been "frozen" by the court due to a custody battle. The money, he claimed, was needed for living expenses. He was arrested and later pleaded guilty to grand larceny. He went to jail and was required to pay full restitution.
These are some of the signs you should look out for:
- A stranger who has constructed on social media a profile of an attractive person who starts contacting you online via e-mail with a romantic intent.
- This person avoids personal contact and use of any two-way visual contact like Skype, or may find an excuse not to use the phone.
- When you decide to break contact, the "catfish" tries to prevent it and says he/she will meet you. However, excuses always delay the personal contact. The promise is used to keep you online.
- The "catfish" will not give you a verifiable physical address.
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