The Term “CATFISH” – Is An Insult To Romance Scams Victims

It Is Actually A Derogatory Term Against Women

We have often been asked why we do not use the term Catfish?

The term “Catfish” is an insult to the victims of this crime!
It makes it sound cute and clever.
It is psychological TORTURE!

There are many times when political correctness goes too far. But at other times it makes us think about what we say and the terms we use.

Think for a moment about the genesis of words

Catfishing, as it is commonly used, is a decriptive term for an activity where a person creates a fictional persona or fake identity on a social networking service, usually targeting a specific kind of victim. The practice may be used for financial gain, to compromise a victim in some way, as a way to intentionally upset a victim, or for wish-fulfillment (as it was originally coined). Catfishing media has been produced, often featuring victims who wish to identify their catfisher. Celebrities have been targeted, which has brought media attention to catfishing practices. There is even a terrible exploiting TV series by that name.

According to Wikipedia, the origin of the term ‘Catfishing,’ a slang term for creating fake profiles on social media to create false identities, has its origins (according to them) in the 2010 movie ‘Catfish,’ a pseudo-documentary that chronicled a young man’s online friendship with a woman that turned out to be very different from her Facebook profile.

While this confirms a male origination and that women catfish men, we believe the term goes back to the early 2000s.

According to dating industry insiders, the term originated around 2000 as a derogatory term for women that altered their attributes on dating websites such as Match, and other sites. It used “cat” as a slang term for women who were fishing for mates or partners by falsifying their information or using photos stolen from other people. This also relates to the fact that real catfish are far from attractive fish. It ignored the fact that men also do exactly the same thing, so there is no exclusivity on the gender of fakes online.

Thus overall, it seems to have originated in a deliberately derogatory, sexist or gender-specific, and even body shaming desire to condemn the women that engaged in this practice.

Another oblique reference to the term comes from the parable of the catfish that has been given a less world-historical slant by American Christians. Pastor Charles Swindoll used it in his 1988 book Come Before Winter and Share My Hope to offer personal spiritual guidance. “Each one of us is in a tank of particular and inescapable circumstances,” Swindoll writes. “It is painful enough to stay in the tank. But in addition to our situation, there are God-appointed ‘catfish’ to bring sufficient tension that keeps us alive, alert, fresh, and growing.” Swindoll’s version has been widely disseminated since then, perhaps most notably appearing in a 2007 book by the influential pastor Joel Osteen. An assistant to Swindoll told Slate that he first encountered the story in a 1983 article in the now out-of-print Fullness Magazine. Ths the catfish are sent to test us?

All in all, SCARS feels that the term is a derogatory term and has no place in the rational discussions of cyber-enabled crime because of its probable sexist origin and because of its imprecise-cliched overuse. It is for that reason that we have stopped using it and have banned it from our future publications.

Unfortunately, because it is a common term, we are forced to use it in certain contexts, bother for search SEO purposes, and to help victims better understand these scams. You will still see some articles on our site with that term, but we will remove them as we revise our articles over time.

For those that continue to use it prominently and provide evidence of their lack of sensitivity and generally amateurish approach to these serious problems, we suggest that they rethink their use of terms.

We believe that the important issue is that we all take a look at the terms we use and do a better job of understanding their impact on others.

The Term "CATFISH" - Is An Insult To Romance Scams Victims 2

More Words We Prefer Not To Use:

  • bamboozled
  • deluded
  • duped
  • hornswoggled
  • outfoxed
  • snowed
  • beguiled
  • bilked
  • burned
  • duped
  • finessed
  • gypped
  • hoodwinked
  • swindled
  • tricked
  • ripped off
  • taken in
  • caught
  • chicaned
  • circumvented
  • cozened
  • dusted
  • flimflammed
  • gulled
  • hoaxed
  • kidded
  • outwitted
  • rooked
  • shafted
  • spoofed
  • double-crossed
  • jerked around
  • pull something
  • roped in
  • yanked
  • done a number on
  • done out of
  • catfished
  • dogfished
  • pulled fast one
  • suckered into
  • taken in
  • taken to the cleaner’s
  • crossed
  • schemed
  • a racket
  • thimblerig
  • montied
  • deviced
  • dodged
  • gimmicked
  • jigged
  • ployed
  • slighted
  • out strategized
  • tricked
  • wiled
  • gouged
  • soaked or had a soaking
  • hoaxed
  • humbugged
  • shammed

Each of these describes a scam, but each of them also has a connotation of foolishness or carelessness or blame built into their use. They also tend to make light of the criminal act they represent.

When we use slang and euphemisms it diminishes the real impact on victims. These crimes are serious. There is nothing funny about them. They are life-changing.

It is important to think about this when we describe what has been done so that others do not mistake a slang term to indicate it does not matter or that there was no pain.

The same is true in every language. Think about the terms you use and make sure you communicate precisely about scams!

Always Report All Scams – Anywhere In The World To:

Go to to learn how

U.S. FTC at and SCARS at
Visit to learn more!

TAGS: SCARS, Information About Scams, Romance Scams, Scam Victims, Fake People, Online Fraud, Fake Profiles, Online Crime Is Real Crime, Scam Avoidance, People Who Deceive Online, Catfish, Catfished, Derogatory Terms, Insulting To Victims



SCARS the Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Incorporated

By the SCARS™ Editorial Team
Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Inc.

A Worldwide Crime Victims Assistance & Crime Prevention Nonprofit Organization Headquartered In Miami Florida USA & Monterrey NL Mexico, with Partners In More Than 60 Countries
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