They Often Aren't After Your Money
You've probably heard a lot about Nigerian princes and romance scammers, who for years now have been kindly separating naive computer users from their money. And you've probably also heard of "catfishing," where people pretend to be someone else for the purpose of a fake online relationship, which honestly is almost as bad as a fish pretending to be a cat.
Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Image They don't even have fur! Why won't science listen?
Catfishers and Nigerian princes are bad people, it's true, but at least these scammers are clearly after something: your lonely aunt's money, maybe, or a sexy nude chat session with your unsuspecting grandpa. Other fakers on the Internet have much murkier motives. For a start, there are sickness fakers, people who join online communities devoted to chronic illnesses and chime in with stories of their own fictional sufferings. These fakers can go to extremes: in 2012, a college student admitted she'd pretended to be a man whose son was suffering from kidney cancer, a scam she'd been running for 11 years. Cancer fakers in particular are so widespread on the Internet that one woman who started a cancer blog was befriended by three unconnected women who all turned out to be pretending. Three.
Push/Digital Vision/Getty Images And you thought it was bad when your friend lied about not using a "sierra" filter on their Instagram lunch photo.
At first glance, these fake-sick weirdos seem like the online version of people like this man, who claimed to have terminal cancer to get donation money. But here's the weird part: a lot of the fake-sick people online aren't after money. That college student with the nonexistent cancer-son? She did collect thousands of dollars in donations ... and they were all forwarded to a legitimate charity. Many other fakers, like the women who scammed the real cancer victim, never ask for money in the first place. On the surface, at least, these people don't seem to be gaining much at all.
Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images "I've been saving a fuckload on shampoo."