Back in the day, times were simpler, and love stories weren’t all too complex. Your grandparents most likely lived within a 10-mile radius of each other, and stumbled across each other at a public spot. They might have gone to the same college, worked together as colleagues, or just been in close physical proximity. That’s no longer a requirement with the internet era!
Dating now is much more complex, and sadly, unsafe, than ever before. Every advantage has a catch, and the online dating world has one too; catfishing. In this article, we’ll tell you what it is, with 7 real stories as examples! Keep reading.
What is a Catfish?
If you’re interacting with a real person who has created a fake account to trick you, you’re being catfished. These online imposters could have different motives to pull such cheap stunts off, but they can be everywhere. No dating website, social media platform, or app is safe from them.
The 2010 documentary ‘Catfish’ made this term popular, and it can be applied to anybody who creates and uses fake profiles.
Some people do it with a motive of simply finding romance, emotional thrill or excitement; aspects that may be missing in their lonely life. They might enjoy it for a while, but sooner or later the cat jumps out of the bag, leaving the unsuspecting people on the other side heartbroken, traumatized and embarrassed. Imagine investing months into a ‘blossoming relationship’ which turned out to be a mere catfish for a 14-year old boy’s ‘thrill’.
Catfishers sometimes take it to the absolute next level too, and some of that cases are described below!
7 Ridiculous Catfish Stories
1. Ex-Husband Stalks Woman
A woman from Minnesota went through an emotionally traumatizing divorce and went the online route to look for love. She found a man and immediately bonded well with him. Seemingly having a lot of things in common, she was quick to open up to him and shared the woes of her recently-ended marriage. The new online boyfriend, as weird as it may sound, convinced her not to go through court proceedings for the divorce.
She started running into her husband more often than it would be coincidental. Turns out, the ‘new online bf’ was actually her obsessive husband, hiding behind a fake profile to stay in touch with his wife. She ended up going through the protective order, and the catfish not only got divorced, but also faced charges for stalking.
2. Illinois Man Gets Fooled by Nigerian Scammer for Thousands Of Dollars
Imagine if you were a thief and had an invisible weapon to blind your victims – good right? Well, they say love truly blinds people – and that’s what a Nigerian scammer used to his advantage. A man from Illinois has been in a relationship with a ‘girl’ for over 2 years, and throughout this time period, sent thousands of dollars to ‘her’ whenever she asked for various reasons.
The ‘girl’ ended up asking for money again, the reason being that she’s kidnapped in London. That was the turning point, the man trusted her fully and went to the police for help against the ‘kidnapper’. The police found out that the woman he’s been talking to is just a fake profile, and Nigerian scammer has been running the account. The man was shaken to his core upon finding this out, as anyone would be.
3. A Fake 'Leah Palmer' Generates Fan Base
Imagine making a celebrity out of nobody – I mean literally ‘nobody’. A profile named ‘Leah Palmer’ has been up and active for over 3 years, and garnered thousands of fans. In reality, there wasn’t any ‘Leah Palmer’, but the photos used to portray her belonged to someone named ‘Ruth Graves’. A friend of Ruth Graves alerted her that her photos were being used under a false name, and that’s how she found out that she’s been a victim of online identity theft for over 3 years. Subsequently, all the fake profiles were shut down, but the identity of the actual catfish remains unknown.
4. Woman Creates Fake Profile Characters and Kills Them Off Just Before 'the Meetup'
Here’s a sadder, and even more bizarre catfish story of a woman from Auckland, New Zealand. She’s Natalia Burgess, who fooled a whole lot of boys via dozens of fake profiles. Creating deep stories about each profile, she caused these boys to fall in love with fake personas. After setting up a meeting, just before it ‘happens’, she’d kill off her fake characters and revel on the grief on their respective memorial pages. Natalia has been sentenced to 2 years and 2 months for her weird, sociopathic cybercrimes.
5. Parent Fools Daughter's Friend with a Fake Profile
This catfish story has a super strange motive behind it; Lori Drew seeking revenge for a mere fight her daughter had with her friend, Megan Meier. The Mom had the bizarre idea to create a fake boy’s profile for revenge on Megan. It was a MySpace profile under the name ‘Josh Evans’, planning to create a fake relationship with Megan to manipulate her and mess her up emotionally. This fake boy, the account of which was controlled by this diabolical parent, said a ton of horrible things to Megan. All of this is believed to have led to Megan’s tragic suicide.
6. Boy Overdoses After the Last Cancelled Date
Brandon Wentzell was a 19-year old indulged in typical late teenage hobbies. He goes to parties, and sometimes do drugs there too. He was into online dating, and met Clarissa in a site called ‘Plenty of Fish’. It all seemed to be going well. ‘Clarissa’ sent him pics and introduced him to her brother. They became close friends online, and ‘Clarissa’ opened up with a story about her obsessive ex-boyfriend who’d send her insults and threats.
Brandon would try repeatedly to meet up, but Clarissa kept canceling it last minute. A particular date cancellation depressed Brandon to the point that he drank a whole vodka bottle and popped a few pills. This combination proved lethal, and he tragically ended up dead. The motives and identity of the catfish remain hidden.
7. Woman Wires Her Online Boyfriend Over One Million Dollars
Sarah, an unsuspecting victim of a catfish theory, shared that she was in a ‘long-distance relationship’ with an Italian businessman Chris Olsen, based in Africa. The two ‘lovebirds’ hadn’t ever met, but Sarah claims to have wire transferred him over a million US dollars over a short course of 18 months. This story was featured in Dr. Phil’s TV show.
She shared that every time her boyfriend would attempt to visit her in the US, he’d claim to be thrown into jail for various reasons. He’d ask for money in such scenarios and always promised to pay the amount back. He still claims that he’d pay it all back once he sees her in the US, and as dumb as it sounds, she believes him. She’s sure it’s not a scam, but every logical person would know that it is.
How to spot a catfish?
Though there aren’t any reliable ways to know what’s true or not online anymore, there are some red flags that most catfish stories have in common. Keep a look out for these signs:
- The relationship moves forward too quickly.
- Their hesitant to show their face, avoiding video calls at all costs.
- Their social media activity is either extremely limited or non-existent.
- They sooner or later ask for money with various excuses.
- It all seems too good to be true at times.
- They’ve got an occupation that makes them travel around the world.
- Their grammar could use some serious work – a common sign of a scammer.
- They come up with elaborate stories from their past to catch your sympathy and create a connection early on.
Should you continue to date if you think you got a catfish?
The most important thing is to put your mental health first. It can be extremely traumatic and heartbreaking to find out that you’ve invested money and hours of your time into a relationship that was never there. The feeling of betrayal can be overwhelming, but you must remind yourself that it’s not the end. Stuff like this happens in life, all you can do is learn from the experience, grow and move on.
Once you’re stable and doing okay mentally, immediately cut all ties with the fake persona. Remove all your information and stop giving them more money if you have been doing so. Report the case to the police and let them go after them or investigate the matter. You’ve got to be super cautious in the future and keep this experience in mind to spot other fakes later on.
The rise of social media and dating websites, apps, and even contests, has made it possible to connect to people on the other side of the globe. You’d be talking to a person that’s miles away, beyond borders, in a completely different society – that’s a possibility your grandpa couldn’t dream of. But with that freedom and expansion, there comes a plethora of problems too. One of these is the lifeless catfishes who’ve littered every dating platform with their evil intentions.
This article mentions some of the most bizarre instances of catfishing to hopefully raise awareness and save you from such creeps online. All the best!