lure (someone) into a relationship by means of a fictional online persona
A catfisher is a person who pretends to be someone they're not, and often uses social media to create a false identity in an effort to mislead. Catfishing, therefore, is typically when a person uses this fake identity to build a relationship with another person online. (Fox News Magazine)
This concept was introduced first with the movie Catfish that investigated Nev Schulman's own catfish story. Later MTV picked up this idea and produced the show Catfish where Nev and his cohost Max Joseph investigate and help others uncover their catfishers.
The reason someone decides to catfish someone varies from case to case but the most obvious reasons are the need of an ego boost, boredom, jealousy, the want for nude pictures or other sexual acts and the list goes on.
Getting catfished is seen as an embarrassing thing because it shows how gullible you are but I'm here to share my story to help cope with the emotions that I have felt and to hopefully inform others to see that this is not something made up on TV and to help others who have gone through similar situations.
Luckily, this only went on from Wednesday, Nov. 2nd- Saturday, Nov. 5th because I was smart enough to not believe everything my catfisher said.
How I Got Into This Situation
You may ask "How did you even get into this situation?" Well there is an easy answer. Social Media. In 2016, social media is a big part in the younger generation's lives. I had received a follow request from someone I did not know through Instagram on Nov 2nd, 2016. I let the boy follow me and I requested to follow them. He immediately began liking my pictures and even commented on one. What does any giddy girl do when an attractive guy starts commenting on pictures? You respond. This was my first mistake.
We began talking through Instagram's direct messages and when we "clicked" we decided to text. This is mistake number two. NEVER GIVE YOUR NUMBER TO ANYONE YOU DO NOT KNOW UNLESS YOU ARE CERTAIN IT IS THEM.
Unfortunately, I got a little excited that a guy was interested in talking to me even if they were in another state so I allowed them to continue talking to him.
What Made Him Seem Real
As an avid viewer of the show Catfish, I was suspicious from the very start. I knew all the tricks from the show. I searched every photo he sent me on Google Images but no photos could be traced (if a photo is screenshot then it will not trace to the original. EEEK not good).
I searched the phone number and it was someone living in the state they said they lived in and had the correct area code.
He lived in a southern state and when we actually talked on the phone, he had a southern accent that no one would be able to fake for a long period of time while talking on the phone.
He knew information about the city and surrounding cities and area that he said he lived in (because I did my fact checking). And he knew this while talking on the phone when you would not have time to look up information online.
When texting or talking on the phone, he sounded like the average teenage boy by the way he talked, his word choice and sentence structure.
When looking at these points, one could believe that he was who he said he was without a doubt, but with every believable point, there is a red flag.
The Red Flags
To start, the "fake" Instagram only had a few posts when it followed me and the first post was from only 21 hours before, and the page had over 8,000 followers. This made it seem like it was a page "bought" from someone else that had gained the followers and then sold the account. Or it could be from another "catfish" but was starting fresh with a new identity.
The number that texted me was an iphone number starting with the +1 but it was always text never imessage and I know myself being an apple user, I love imessage and was shocked that he would choose to have his phone only use text. This could also mean he used a texting "app" that could create a phone number with any area code
He told me that his high school was grades 8-12 which I thought was a little strange. (I did look this up later and found that the school was only grades 9-12). He said his school ended at 4 which I thought was weird because it is pretty late for a high school to be getting out but I let it slide at first. Then he called me because I was out of school but he was technically still suppose to be in school.
He claimed to have played football, baseball and basketball (which the real one does so you could find the name on rosters). It was the day before his "football game" and he claimed that practice was cancelled which did not seem likely because the game was against the high school's rival school.
The night of the football game, he texted me when it was 9:40 p.m. his time saying they won the game. As a high schooler, I know that games do not end that early and if you were a player you would still be on the field or in the locker rooms even if the game was over. I then asked what the final score was and he did not tell me until 2:00 a.m. and when I looked online, that was the time the score was posted online. He said that he got held up after the game and could not tell me the final score until later because of a "senior meeting" since it was the last regular season game. Normally this would have made sense but he is not a senior so he would not have to be at that "senior meeting".
While talking on the phone one day, I mentioned having a snapchat. After the call, he texted asking what my snapchat username was and I gave it to him. I immediately noticed that it was a brand new snapchat because the only snapchats his account had ever sent were snapchats to me. But he was too "good" at snapchat and knew all the "tricks" to it and was clearly not a beginner. When I asked for him to send a selfie on snapchat, he claimed he deleted the app because his mom did not want him to have one and he went behind her back in the first place to get one. He then proceeded to send me a screenshot from his "mom" telling him she did not want him to have snapchat.
What pushed me over the edge, was when he sent this picture of his "backyard".
I called him out saying there was no way it was his backyard (because that backyard looks too good to be true just like he was) and that I wanted a selfie as proof. This is how he responded:
What's not to believe I've got no reason to lie...So now I'm a liar lol...Cause this is totally a catfish...Like we've connected so amazingly and you don't even think I'm a real person...Like fucking Google me I'm pretty sure I'm who I say I am...No that's childish to even consider...Why would I do that...Cause there isn't anything fake going on with me.
News Flash---If you are real and feel a connection, then you would just send the selfie and prove that you are real. Also he encouraged me to look him up so me uncovering the truth was basically his own mistake. Although the catfisher stole the real persons name, photos and basic building blocks of his life, the made up information is what gave it away as to him being fake.
But The Story Continues
I feel like I was on my own episode of MTV's show Catfish. Unfortunately, this was just Hannah edition and I did not have the help of amazing hosts, Nev Schulman and Max Joseph. Part two of my catfish experience, I am going to show you how I researched and found the real guy. If you are new to my story, check out part 1 for background information.
I researched the name and as I previously stated in Part 1, the catfisher not only take pictures, but also took the name and basic story of the real guy. This meant that when I researched the name, I found the actual guy's name on rosters for the sports he played at the correct school and any pictures online were of him.
When researching the school though, I saw he lied about the number of grades it had, the number of students and lied about classes. One day, I asked what class he was in and he said "Art History". Upon further investigation, I found that the high school he said he went to did not even offer that class. The cherry on top of the lies about the school is he said he has a female principal and when I researched it, a male principal popped right up.
When you start talking to anyone new, you look up all of their social medias to see if they have any, to get personal information and maybe even a few pictures. I could find no Twitter, but found an old Facebook but with a picture of "him" that he had sent to me.
Then I looked up his actual name and not username on Instagram and found the real guy...
I requested to follow the real account and they requested me back. I looked and saw pictures I had previously seen but also saw information that would have been wrong if it was the same person including the facts that the real guy had a girlfriend, was religious and had a different family than what I had been described.
I messaged the real guy and told him straight forward "Someone is using your pictures to catfish people". He was shocked. We talked a little and I did some fact checking with information that I was told and all of it was wrong from family to pets and to the infamous backyard. I sent the real guy the photos I was sent and he told me where they came from (Instagram, Twitter and the creepiest was one from his orthodontist).
I then gave the real guy the "fake's" number incase he wanted to try to contact it (even though if my theory that it was a fake number from an app is correct, then it was already deleted and could not be contacted). The real guy figures that it is most likely someone from a rival/surrounding school that did not like him or possibly someone from his own school but whoever it was, follows him on his private Instagram and Twitter.
How It All Ended
After finding the real Instagram, I texted the catfisher and said "Why do you have two Instagrams" just to call them out and in that very moment, the fake Instagram blocked me and then deleted the account and is now labeled as "unused account". I then assume that the catfisher blocked my number or deleted their number if it was a fake because they never responded to any texts after that point of me just asking why he would do this and any calls I tried to make that day never went through and went straight to voicemail.
I then reported the fake Instagram (yes it was already shut down but I still reported it) and I blocked the Instagram and blocked the number after getting no responses for the rest of the night.
I have never felt so personally violated and all around grossed out. To open up to someone and find out everything they ever said was a lie makes you lose a little hope in society. I do feel sad for the catfisher though because I know that someone must be really going through something mentally or very hard in their life to do this to another human being.
Unlike the show Catfish, I never found out who the person behind the fake was and I probably never will. For more information on my new advice pertaining to internet safety, read Part 3 right here on my blog or you can find it under the category: "My Catfish Story"
(All photos courtesy of Giphy)
Luckily, I caught it early on and was suspicious from the start. It is sad though because you do feel some sort of connection, but you must remember that it was all fake and I honestly feel sorry for the catfisher because they must be going through something to be low enough to do this.
What Should You Do?
ALWAYS BE SUSPICIOUS
Do not give out any personal information, always have your social medias on private, only trust those who you actually know and direct messaging is better to use than to give your number unless you know 100% they are real. DO NOT GIVE OUT YOUR NUMBER I AM SERIOUS!!!
Do not be afraid to ask if they are real because if they are, they will send proof with either a picture, Facetime or on Skype. If you are real, there is nothing to hide so send that selfie!
Research to the MAX! Look up accounts, Google them, reach out to friends in pictures or their followers and search their phone number. Online them might be different than real them. Think about it. Everyones Instagram looks better than they actually do because you only post pictures that you look good in.
If they happen to be fake, report their pages and then block them everywhere. If you find the real person, do not be afraid to reach out and tell them their pictures are being used because they will be grateful you told them.
Do not be afraid to reach out for help from others or contact the police if you feel in danger. If you are asked to send money, inappropriate pictures or receive inappropriate pictures, contact the police.
Moral Of The Story
Do not talk to people online and if you do please be safe, do not put full trust in anyone you do not know. If you or someone you know has gone through this and needs to talk to someone with a similar experience feel free to contact me or to find support through a friend or family member.
(All photos courtesy of Giphy)