When we hear the word "catfish", our first thought might be a picture of a creature that lives at the bottom of lakes or rivers with an oversized mouth, barbels resembling whiskers - not all that pretty looking overall.
However, in this case it does not mean that we are going fishing. Catfishing is when someone pretends to be someone else online. This person completely assumes a fake identity and goes the extra mile to make their victim believe that they are exactly who they say they are.
It tends to happen a lot in online dating. Catfish victims usually end up falling in love with a person that does not exist. For example, a woman may think she is in love with a male model type, when actually it is a teenage girl behind that computer screen.
So then, why is catfishing a potential mental health issue?
Simply put, anyone who is a catfisher is playing with a person's emotions thereby causing, at times, significant well-being related issues that can be long lasting.
This emotional low can have devastating effects on a person's ability to trust others.
It deteriorates self-esteem and confidence, which can lead to stress, anxiety or in some cases depression, as the person being catfished becomes more reclusive.
Catfishing is a serious problem with online interactions where one person deceives another through chat, in email or with video software where the other person uses the likeness of someone else.
When the person uses the identity or convinces the target to engage in certain activities, the criminal offence of fraud is possible and likely.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has published data on dating and romance scams starting in 2016. The ACCC website provides detailed statistics of reported romance fraud in Australia, yet there is little information available about social catfishing - deception in the absence of financial fraud. There are also questions about the legality of impersonating someone who does not exist.
This emotional low can have devastating effects on a person's ability to trust others. It deteriorates self-esteem and confidence, which can lead to stress, anxiety or in some cases depression, as the person being catfished becomes more reclusive.
Until these issues are resolved, there is no clear avenue to pursue for victims of social catfishing.
Victims may remain unaware of the deception for months or years - another reason catfishing often goes unreported, and making it even harder to quantify.
In 2013, Dr Raychelle Lohmann wrote an article in Psychology Today stating that catfishing is also a way for sexual predators to interact with their victims.
These predators use their fake identity to talk to teens, allowing them to get close to them so that the teen will trust them. It is then easy for the predator to get information from the teen so that they can use that information to harm the victim.
According to a study released in the 2013 Journal of Pediatrics, 30 per cent of teen girls in the study admitted they met up with a stranger in person after initially meeting them online. This is extremely concerning, as predators seek out these vulnerable teens and their intentions can range from sexual relations to something as severe as sex trafficking. In simple terms, catfishing is another form of bullying. If a person uses technology to cause repeated harm to another, then it's cyberbullying.
Justin Patchin, from the Cyberbullying Research Center, states it perfectly: "It is easy to be blinded by feelings of affection, especially when someone is giving you more positive attention than you have ever gotten from anyone else before.
"Just remember to stop and think about the possibility that someone might be taking advantage of you and proceed with the utmost caution.
"As they say, if something (or in this case someone) seems too good to be true, it probably is."
If you or someone you know is a victim of catfishing, you can contact the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network on 1300 292 371 or via www.acorn.gov.au
Dr Anthony Perrone is college counsellor at Trinity Anglican College. The views expressed in this column are Dr Perrone's and not necessarily those of Trinity Anglican College.