“Hi my name is (we’ll call him) Sam, and I’m 6’1” tall, in great shape and have an amazing career in sports medicine that I love. Because, well, I just love to help people. I’m tall, dark, handsome and very humble. Did I say humble? I’m easy going, love my mother and I am a world traveler. I want to find a good woman to share life’s many journeys and find that one special gal who wants to grow old with me. I like long walks on the beach…” You get where I’m going with all this. Online dating: Most single people do it. However, what if the person you think you are getting to know is not whom they say they are? Welcome to the world of catfishing. It is not just for teens anymore.
The phenomenon of Internet predators that fabricate online identities and entire social circles to trick people into emotional/romantic relationships (over a long period of time).
Possible motivations: revenge, loneliness, curiosity, and boredom. The term catfishing was inspired by the 2010 documentary “Catfish.”1
I had my first, and what I hope is my only Catfish experience last week. I reluctantly joined the ranks of online dating again. I’m open-minded and love meeting new people. A few friends and coworkers encouraged me to give it a go, so I caved. I know it works for some, so I’m not knocking it. I also know thousands of people meet their significant others online. Friends and friends of friends have met online. As for me, I’m cutting the cord. Although I know it happens, I never in a million years thought that I would fall prey to someone claiming to be someone else. I’m an educated professional and unfortunately for him, (or her — because you never know) a tech savvy one at that. I guess he did not hear of or see the documentary Catfish. They also have a show on MTV. If you have not seen it or heard of it, and you participate in online dating, I suggest you look it up.
Dating, in part, is putting you out there. I get that. We all take risks. Whether or not you are set-up by a friend, meet in a bar, through an organization, work, or online, its luck of the draw. My first mistake was that I chose the wrong dating site. Second mistake was I should have logged off when it became a part time job. Third, I got caught up in someone based on his looks, the fact that he was interesting and came across as super fun. Can you blame me? Tall, dark, handsome, smart, single and funny? Where do I sign? So I thought why not. Until it got weird. Then something in me clicked. My intuition kicked into full gear. Damn my female intuition! She is always right and I get left with having no fun! Truthfully, something did not feel right. The fact that he messaged me at odd times was a red flag. Immediately I questioned, was he married? Why was he so evasive when I suggested we speak on the phone? Red flags sprouted up all over the place. So I put my detective hat on and went to work.
· I took a screenshot of Sam’s profile photo.
· I used Google image search to confirm his identity. Someone named (we’ll call him) Johnny Do popped up.
· I Google searched Johnny Do. Turns out he is a professional who lives up north, and has a thriving practice.
· I visited Johnny Do’s website and found his email address. I was not sure if the email would get to him, but I kept it on the back burner just in case.
· I reached out to Sam. I asked him why he was messing with me. He denied it and offered to chat over the phone and meet up over the weekend.
· I knew full well that I had been duped.
· I asked him who is Johnny and his dance began. Sam pretended to come clean. He told me he was the real Johnny Do. He was using a nickname because he was on vacation for a month, and did not want to provide his true identity. As the saying goes, I was born at night, but not LAST night. He apologized and said he should have come clean sooner.
· I emailed Johnny Do. To my surprise Johnny responded. He was not happy to hear someone was using his identity. Who would be? If it happened to me, I would want to know and figure out a way to stop that person as soon as possible. It is just wrong on every level.
· I let Sam know that I caught him. I could have ripped into him, but instead I told him he should be proud of who he is and not try to be someone he is not. There is someone out there who will like him for him.
· Sam wrote me one last message “Thank you. I appreciate that. Take care and best of luck. You deserve it.”
That was the last I heard of Sam. His profile has since been removed, and I hope he learned a valuable lesson to just, be himself. Why do people feel compelled to do this? Is it because they set out to mess with people? Are they hurting? Did someone break them? Are they bored? Are they into being vindictive and set out to hurt others? Is it a sickness? Do they like being someone else as an escape mechanism? I’m not a therapist, but I’m sure they have serious self-image and/or life issues. With technology evolving, and media capturing these types of stories nationally, I’m shocked to see people still get away with this. In this case, try to get away with it. I’m lucky I found out very early on and did not invest much energy. Other woman may not have been so lucky to catch him as early as I did.
Ladies be careful out there! Follow your gut! If they do not want to call you right away if they do not make an effort to meet, or if you feel uneasy in any way about anything, do not question it. Something just felt off with this guy to me. I’m thankful I didn’t ignore my intuition. On the bright side, I made it out unscathed and Johnny Do is a new friend.
Have you ever had this happen to you? Do you have a viewpoint as to why someone would do this? We want to hear from you. Feel free to add comments.