Updated January 7, 2022
POF is not a Christian Dating App
The longest relationship I have ever had started online through the dating app, Plenty of Fish (POF). Back then, the app was still new and lots of people I knew were meeting on it. The fact that the app referenced a fish (a known symbol of Christianity) made many of us think it was a Christian app. That Christian connection made you feel safe–even when it was the farthest thing from the truth.
Simple and Free Isn’t
POF started as a free app, and you could communicate with matches without payment. When this review was updated in 2022, many users claimed that you could not move forward with communication without paying for a membership.
My profile got a lot of attention. At first, it was intoxicating and self-affirming because I was no longer invisible and guys were messaging me from all over. What started as one nice digital complement, however, turned ugly. A few nude pictures and inappropriate invitations down the road, I was ready to leave the app. The same was true for the man that would become my boyfriend, but even he had enough problems that we couldn’t last long term.
Trying Again on POF
Five years down the road from my first experience with the app, I went back in for a new connection and had a totally different experience. Within 24 hours of going back to POF, I had over 50 guys messaging me, and the caliber of these matches was significantly upgraded. Most were men with good character, strong jobs, and handsome, athletic bodies.
There were still plenty of matches just looking for hookups, but they were outnumbered by the good fish claiming to want women with good hearts (not gym rats).
I was overwhelmed with options, so I decided to establish filters for the matches I talked to. First, I asked all the tough questions about core values in the app itself. It was easy to say goodbye quickly and safely if we wanted different things; there would be no hard feelings. Next, I listened to what the matches chose to talk about. What a person treasures is revealed through how they talk. This filtering process helped me narrow down from 50+ matches to three.
Money Requests Change Connections
One day, one of the guys I had narrowed downed to asked me if I had a credit card. I freaked out, thought he wanted money, and told one of the other guys about it. That guy–who was overseas at the time–went out of his way to find a way to video chat with me from overseas.
I needed to video chat with my matches to see they were who they said they were. The fact that this one match was willing to do so while also on the front lines of military service made him quickly rise to the head of my pack. With more conversation, I was ignoring everyone else but him. I didn’t expect everything about him was a lie.
Reporting Liars is Not Supported
When Chris was a lie, I went back to POF to report him, but he was already gone. I tried to report the guy who asked for a credit card, and he was gone as well.
Angry about being lied to, I decided to stay on the app and see who would reach out again. I felt like bait tangling in a shark tank, but if I could snag a few bad fish and report them, I thought it would be worth it.
One day, I got a nibble. The next, a juicy bite. In a few short questions, I was identifying 5-7 catfishers and liars per day.
What Is A Catfisher?
Catfishers are people who take pictures of real people (often from their social media accounts) and pretend to be someone they are not online in order to create emotional bonds they can exploit for money. Sometimes they even promise to not ask for money, but that is a tactic used to build trust and make you offer it later.
Catfishers will say whatever you want to hear and be whomever you want them to be, but their conversations poke holes in their stories. First, they write in broken English. Then, the details don’t add up. One minute they are a saxophone player, the next a guitarist. They claim to be from a particular area but can’t accurately report the time and weather there.
Every word from a catfisher is a lie—sometimes plagiarized word for word from online—so do your research! Google what they tell you to see if it makes sense. If they claim to be military, make friends with some real military folks and ask questions.
Catfishers often claim to be victims of multiple tragedies. One guy told me his wife cheated on him with his best friend and got pregnant with him then she took his kid and left. He also claimed he lost his only brother and father in (military) service. That’s a lot of tragedy for one man to endure. True or not, tragedy inspires sympathy, and sympathy opens wallets. Be wary.
There are different levels of proficiency in the art of scamming. In my experience, novice scammers show their cards early; experienced ones are in it for the long game. They do their research and back up their lies with believable truths. They get you so convinced that you still have feelings for them long after you know they were a lie. This is how so many women across the world are hurt today thinking a service member wronged them (stolen valor).
What is a Shark?
Sharks are people that lie to you for non-monetary reasons. Most of the time these are the ones that send sleazy pictures and pick up lines late at night to try to get a quick booty call. Other times, these are the fish that lie about their relationship status or even their gender. They get a thrill out of baiting people. In the mildest of cases, it is someone pretending to be single when they are not. In the worst, it can be an entirely false persona.
One guy told me he was single when he was actually engaged. I contacted the woman supposed to be his ex and showed her screenshots of what he said. It’s up to her to decide what she will do with him, but I hope she values herself enough to not marry him. He was definitely a shark.
Another scenario I read about was even scarier. A guy was a big fan of a serial killer series, and he posed as a woman online to meet guys. When the guys went to where they were supposed to meet “her” in real life, the poser attacked and tried to kill them.
Resources to Help You Fact-Check
Use third-party websites to verify pictures, phone numbers, addresses, and more. I used at least three different websites to help identify catfishers and scammers and a fourth to report them. Some services are free, but most require payment. If you don’t want to invest in a service like this, at least Google search the name and personal information you are given.
You should become layered in your online presence and vigilant about protecting your identity. To learn more about that and why it is important, read my article about how to protect yourself from catfishers on social media.
Leaving the Fish Tank For Good
When I went to POF the second time around, I had high hopes of finding love. Several catfish and shark later, I felt jaded. I couldn’t trust anyone. It got to a point that I didn’t even trust my eyes were looking at pictures of the same person I was talking to. My trust in people in general was bruised too.
I left POF for good. I haven’t looked back–not even to update this article.
As I was leaving, I was asked to complete an exit survey. The results of that said I was too “narrow-minded” especially in my “religious” desire to not have sex until I was married. If I had any doubts, that confirmed it: POF is not a Christian site. They went on to suggest that I needed to lower my standards if I wanted to find a match.
I went on other dating sites after POF, and they all have problems. That is a story for another day….
Stay safe out there!
2 thoughts on “Plenty of Fish (POF) is Full of Nothing but Catfish and Sharks!”
I am pleased to hear your story and I find it very interesting because it sounds exactly like mine. Not only does it sound exactly like mine, but it’s the same guy; he goes by the name of Anthony Gary. I knew something was wrong; I had a feeling he was a scammer. I even called him on it, and he said no. He asked me to buy him a plane ticket for a vacation for 30 days. I told him no. He then asked me if I would send him some bitcoins to help me out. I said no. That was the last blow up. Right now he’s trying to make peace with me acting like he is a little sorry for me, but I got to let this go. I’ve never done this before. I met him on breaking news. He contacted me and kept binging me, but I wouldn’t accept it because I don’t do this sort of thing. Funny. Well, I accepted and got myself all involved in this somehow, some way. When I read your story I thought, “oh my God he told me the same exact thing!” I’ve been trying to end this thing, and every time I do, something keeps pulling me back in. I don’t like the way I’m feeling but want nothing to do with him that’s for sure. I appreciate reading the things that you wrote, and they’re helping, so I want to thank you.
Thank you, Lora, for sharing your story. Unfortunately, these jerks are skilled manipulators and look at there whole routine like a job. They often work in teams and on multiple scams at the same time. To them, you are nothing more than a paycheck. Keep that in mind and it will be easier to leave this fish in the past. If you have any idea of where he is at and you have given him any money, you should turn him into the police and file a report.
Best of luck to you! Thank you for reading my blog and letting me know how it helped you.
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