Online Sense is ICDL Arabia's philanthropic arm aimed at raising public awareness on Cyber Safety.

Catfish are everywhere, and they’re becoming a huge problem on the Internet.

No, we’re not talking about the ones in the ocean; we’re talking about the fake profiles on social media and online apps.

How do you know if you’re talking to a catfish online? Well, we’re going to explain a foolproof method on catching catfish.

It comes in two stages, and it is courtesy of YouTube user GradeAUnderA.

What Is a Catfish?

For those who don’t know what a catfish is, it is someone who makes an account on social media and pretends to be someone else, usually by using someone else’s pictures instead of their own. Anyone who creates a fake profile on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. is considered an (online) catfish.

One common example we see all the time is when someone is talking to a gorgeous model he/she has never met before. In reality, that’s not the case at all. They’re probably talking to an online criminal.

1. The Google Image Search

The first thing you want to do after you found a sketchy profile is to right-click on the image and click ‘Copy Image URL.’

Now, go to Google Images, and click on the camera icon.

Catfish: Search by Image (Google Images)

It will pop open this screen.

Search by image URL: Catfish

Now, paste the image URL in the search bar under ‘Paste image URL’ and then click ‘Search by Image.’

Let’s use an example to make it easier and more ‘pleasing to the eye.’

Let’s Go Fishing (with Google & Google Images)

Let’s say you get a new follower or a friend request from someone like this: a nice looking girl on Instagram who goes by the username Rebccaxoxo.

Fake account: Catfish (Maggie Lindemann - Rebccaxoxo)

She gives you a quick message in your inbox: “Hey. How are you?”

What do you do? (Hint: Do NOT reply.)

The answer: check to see if it’s a fake account on Google Images!

Take a look at all the results we found just by pasting her image URL into the search bar.

We know this is a fake account now. Why? Because Google was able to access her real name: Maggie Lindemann. (If you open another tab and google her name, you’ll find her Instagram account in the search bar. She’s very well known in England and has over 1.5 million Instagram followers.
Google’s search bar didn’t only track the image (the JPG). It didn’t only give you 47 search results with same selfie. It also searched for the name of the person linked to the image!

Pretty cool, huh? Nothing gets past Google!

Have a look at this video from Google. It explains how to search by image in more detail:

2. Spot Catfish by Making a Simple Request

The Google Image search should do the trick when trying to spot a catfish. However, in case you don’t fully trust Google – for whatever reason – you can try this:

Ask them to send you a picture touching their ear with their pinky finger. Simple!

Now you’re probably thinking, “Why would I do that?”

Think about it. Catfish can only send you pictures they can find online. How many pictures can you find of someone taking a selfie while touching their ear with their pinky finger? None!

It’s something so specific yet so random at the same time. Plus, it filters out all the images they can find of the person they’re pretending to be.

Of course, you could ask them to take a picture of themselves doing something else. Ask them to put their left hand around their head touching their right ear, for example. (As long as it also shows their face, you’re good to go.)

The point is to make them do something that would be difficult for them to do and entertaining for you if they decide to do it.

What Will Happen When You Ask Someone to Do This?

They will get really defensive and try to blame you when you catch them.

“Why do you want me to do that? Don’t you trust me?”

They will not want to talk to you anymore because you know that you caught their fakeness.

It doesn’t matter anyway, because you’re going to put them out of their misery: by reporting them! 😉

Conclusion: Watch Out for Online Catfish (They Bite)

That is the simple guide to spotting a catfish. May your time on social media be fun, fruitful, and catfish-less!

If you watch some catfish stories, there is a show called Catfish that documents several episodes of people who actually fall victim to online catfish.

…And if you have any other interesting techniques on how to catch online catfish, you’d like to share, be sure to email us at