Today, I want to talk about a recent experience I had with a catfisher, meaning someone who contacted me pretending to be someone they are not. In my case, the person was pretending to be the country music star, Dwight Yoakam.
Let me back up. I am a HUGE fan of Dwight. I used to see him perform in clubs around Los Angeles. I have his EP that came out before he got a major label contract. He is one of the few country music artists I like.
He has been doing a really cool online live performances of his first albums. His social media team announced that his old fiddle player was going to be performing and I commented how excited that made me. We used to dress like the fiddle player at his shows.
That is when I was contacted by a catfisher pretending to be Dwight. They asked me to DM, I did. Why? Curiosity. I knew this wasn't Dwight, but I was curious who wanted to text me. They told me they were Dwight and sometimes reach out to fans this way. Hmmmmmm. Really? No he doesn't. But still, I was curious, so after consulting with my hubby and a friend I decided to play along.
We messaged back and forth for about a week. To be honest, it was insanely boring. This person wasn't even trying to pretend to be Dwight. They mostly wanted to ask me about whether I liked bagels and red wine. And then, about 1 week in, they told me a secret that their marriage was failing. Then, they told me - they loved me.
I was honestly shocked that they got there so quickly. I would have assumed they would have tried to groom me more. They didn't. At that point I had learned what I wanted and stopped communicating.
Why I am telling you this? Because the entire time I communicated with them, I kept thinking, why? Why I am chatting with someone I know is a scam artist?
The best answer I can give you is curiosity and hope. It's an odd combination. Honestly, I was pretty sure this wasn't Dwight. I told this person multiple times I didn't think they were Dwight. But my brain kept saying - what if they were? That is where the hope came in. And I think it's a very natural and human thing to want to hope.
Which brings me back to the very important humanist skill of skepticism. Even though I knew this wasn't Dwight, I was still kind of hopeful it was and that hope, even though I was skeptical, was enough to lure me in and keep me engaged. I did talk to a friend and say, this isn't worth it - it's so boring. They said to keep playing along so I did. To be fair, they were running on more hope than I was. I was pretty sure this wasn't Dwight, they were holding out hope it really was. (It wasn't)
The combination of curiosity and hopefulness is what kept me engaged because seriously, the conversations were insanely inane. The truth is, skepticism is not enough. I had plenty of skepticism. It wasn't enough to overcome my curiosity and the teeny tiny bit of hope that maybe I was wrong.
My advice, don't even play with these folks. These people are ruthlessly evil. They do this to get information on you to scam you and break into your passwords and things like that. They are trying to get your email and personal information about you. I think the last thing they asked me is for my address.
Did I get what I wanted out of the experience? Actually - yes. My curiosity has been satisfied. I experienced a catfisher. I have a better understanding of why people succumb to this temptation, which in turn will make me more compassionate. What was the price? It was actually pretty steep. Shortly after starting to communicate, my websites started to experience brute force attacks (meaning, they were attempting to hack my passwords and get into my websites). They have failed so fair and probably will never succeed at this. It's just an ongoing nuisance I have to deal with. The good news is that the attacks have led me to do some long over due beefing up of my security, which I should have done earlier.
Even though you all will probably never fall prey to a catfisher, take your password security seriously. Seriously. Take it seriously.