September 7, 2018 | Christine Tran

People Share Their Craziest, Borderline-Dangerous Catfish Stories

“I thank god for the catfish because we would be droll, boring and dull if we didn't have somebody nipping at our fin.”—Vince Pierce.

In the online sense of the word, a “catfish” is simply someone who fakes being someone else via social media. While some catfish are simply trolling, there are online liars out there who just want love—and money—as much as the so-called “honest” folk of the great wide web. Sometimes the catfish is handy with photoshop or image-sourcing; other times, the con works out because people will believe what they want to believe. After all, isn’t a super-cool online person who likes us from afar so much “safer” than IRL love?

For the users who shared their real-life catfish stories on Reddit, IRL certainly got scary and weird when the catfish became more than pixels and emojis. After reading these stories, I bet some of us will be doing a reverse search on our profile pics…just to be sure we aren’t being used as bait in someone else’s lure. From the misled victims to the perplexed perps, cringe to these 42 freaky encounters with online catfish.

Catfish Stories facts The Tab

42. A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Lies

To start I want to say that if fat people want to be fat, that's fine. Own it. I personally choose not to be. I am very active and try to eat healthy-ish and being very active (hike, bike, climb or some other active outside thing almost every day of the week) is very important to me.

I met this girl on Tinder or some site and she looked super cute; a little curvy in all the right ways, incredible skin and these crazy green eyes. We chatted for a while and agreed to meet at a local bar.

The girl who met me was not that girl. She was about 275lbs, 5'5"-5'6" ish, horrible skin that look like she wiped her face off with the greasy bottom of a fast food bag, and these sullen dark brown eyes. Clearly the pictures were of her to some degree because I could see her in the pictures.

After we said our hello's and got a drink there was a long awkward silence. Nothing to talk about. We had talked about how she also enjoyed being active outside and everything, but I did not get that impression from our initial conversation. I decided to jump right in and asked if she sometimes wore colored contacts, to which she replied no, she just liked the way it made her look. Some more less than subtle probing from me (I was annoyed that I clearly had been deceived onto a date) and she admitted she was a graphic designer, and quite talented with Photoshop. She basically photoshopped herself into a 5'9" tall, 165lb, green-eyed, fair-skinned bombshell.

She admitted she had photoshopped herself to get dates. I was dumbfounded. No, I probably would not have gone out with her if she had been real, but I know there are guys that would have, who maybe didn't care about the lifestyle things I care about. But the fact that she had intentionally deceived me made me despise her. She then had the audacity to claim that I was an asshole because I never "gave her a real shot.”

Catfish Stories facts Degrassi wikia

41. A Little Help From My “Friends”

I used to be on Greatestjournal and had a group of friends over there. We were all ages 17-25. There was one girl, I forgot her name, but I think it was Nelly or something, who was really nice and smart but had problems at home.

She asked me to borrow money a couple of times and said we should meet up somehow and hang out, but I never gave her anything or gave her personal information. Other girls gave her their numbers or addresses so they could hang out.

I forgot how, but one of them found out that she was actually a 50-something woman who was stuck at home on disability and was bored.

It's not as bad as a lot of the stories on here, but it was still creepy.

Catfish Stories facts Bonsai Finance

40. There’s No Business Like Shady Business

Weirdly, someone used a photo of me in last year's Halloween costume I posted to Reddit to make an OKCupid account in the UK. So apparently, she's catfishing this one guy and he looked up the image source which led him here. He messaged me about it and sent me the link, I sent OKC some proof it was me and had it taken down. Pretty shady business.

Catfish Stories facts Celebrations Cake Decorating

39. Caught Swiping

I was single and on Tinder. I saw my sister's boyfriend on there and thought, what the heck is this?

I made a fake profile to catfish him and talked to him for a bit—it was obviously him, and I got his number. Showed it to my sister and she broke up with him.

Catfish Stories facts Zoosk

38. Copycat

A girl on Tinder, who was extremely attractive, found my Snapchat and started asking for nudes. Even went first with some teasing pictures.

It wasn't difficult to figure out the girl in the pictures was not the girl sending me pictures. But, I went with it and the girl ended up being pretty good looking as well, so I wasn't upset about it. Never went beyond Snapchat though.

Catfish Stories facts The Daily Beast

37. Sad Coincidences

Some girl used my photos on a dating website. I found out while I was out at a bar with some friends and a man approached me asking me if I was A. I declined, and he kept pressing that I really was. He proceeded to show me my "profile" and one of the pics, I was wearing pretty much the same outfit as I had on during this exchange.

I felt awful for him when I explained what I thought was happening. He wasn't meeting her for a date or whatever ... he thought he was finally meeting "A" by running into her.

Catfish Stories facts Debuu

36. Not Worth the Mileage

Not me but my older brother’s best friend. He had been talking to this girl online for a really long time. He was planning on driving to Texas (we live in north Georgia) to visit her.

When he told her that he was going to drive over to see her, she confessed that she was actually an overweight 43-year-old lady. He was 23 at the time. He doesn't like to talk about it...

Catfish Stories facts FiloPost

35. Learning Something New About Herself

I've seen this happen in WoW as well. One of my guildmates, "A,” told me that she has fallen in love with another girl in my guild, “B.” It didn't make any sense to her because "A" also has a boyfriend and has only dated guys in the past.

"A" ended up confessing her love to "B", and that's where things got really strange. "B" had to admit to something: "B" was really a he.

So "A" ended up having her own crisis because she wasn't sure anymore if she was gay, bi, or straight if she fell in love with a "girl,” but isn't sure that counts because that "girl" ended up being a boy.

It sucks because "A" ended up going insane and had to quit the guild in shame.

Catfish Stories facts MMOBoom

34. My Sister Is Pretty Cool Too

I met this young man named "Shane" on the Neopets when I was 13. My best friend was 16 and so was "Shane." He lived in Holland and we would chat daily. I told my mom about our international friend, and she reminded me that "you never know who you're talking to on the Internet." I got freaked out and wouldn't talk to Shane for a couple of months, while my best friend would still talk to him daily.

The strange thing was, Shane shared an email address with his sister "Rowena" and we had only ever seen one picture of "Shane." Whatever, not many people back then had digital cameras or video cameras.

My best friend fell madly in love with Shane and, like I said, talk to him daily. They talked about meeting up, but something would always get in the way, even when my friend was in Holland with her family. We also found the same picture of Shane on Vampire Freaks, which was weird, because it was under a different name.

After years of talking, like four freaking years, my best friend received an email from her lover. He told her there was something he needed to tell her and was just so embarrassed about, but he had been hiding something for quite some time, and to look for an email to her about it.

She responded and waited for the email for months, it never came, she never heard from Shane again. She sent emails and instant messages to Shane, but he never responded again.

She started digging and she found Shane's sister's—Rowena's—social media site. On it were all the photos and drawings Shane had been sending her for years claiming that they were his. Pictures of Shane's new shoes, of a drawing he had made for my best friend, all of Shane's favorite bands, etc. My best friend then realized he had not fallen in love with Shane, but a girl from Holland named Rowena.

It's been four years since she's spoken to Shane, and the first year after they stopped talking, she sent Rowena an email letting her know that she knows that Shane never existed. I know deep down she still wants answers, but I'm pretty sure she’ll never get them.

Catfish Stories facts EVIL ENGLISH

33. Mess With My Mom and We’ll Have Issues

Not me, but my mom...

The guy said he worked for an oil drilling company and was off in the middle of the ocean on an oil platform. Then he told my mom that his daughter was in some dancing competition in another country, and she had fallen and broken her leg and he couldn't send her any money for the medical bills, and that he needed my mom to send thousands of dollars to some account, and that he would pay her back three times over when he came back into the country, and then he would basically take her away to paradise, and she would live in happiness forever.

I told her that this was obviously BS and he was trying to rip her off. She wouldn't believe me, or any of our family or her friends, even though every single person we know told her the same thing. She insisted that we all wanted her to be unhappy, that she was gonna abandon us all, and go live with him in paradise as soon as he came back into the country.

The good news was, she didn't have a penny to give him, much less thousands of dollars. She tried to explain that to him, but he kept hounding her about it. So I took it upon myself to go to one of those websites where they try and catch these sorts of people, and after telling them the info, they basically confirm that this same guy has been using this same information to try and lure women for months, and that he is DEFINITELY a con artist. I tried to explain this to my mother, but she wouldn't listen.

Then I myself went and sent him an anonymous and very threatening email, telling him that he had better confess to everything to every woman he is trying to rip off, or I would reveal all of his personal information to the police, and that I was an elite hacker and I knew every single thing about him (obviously, this was a bluff).

He fell for it and I know that at least my mother received an email from him confessing everything. I didn't have to actually send any info to the police though, as the website I spoke of before said that they already had all sorts of info on the guy and would take care of it.

Catfish Stories facts Salon

32. From the Mouth of God (Not Really)

I was catfished before the days of the internet. I'm a girl, but this boy in school did an uncanny impression of my voice (prepubescent). He used to call some of the other boys in school pretending to be me, having hour-long conversations.

Guys would come up to me at school and ask me about something referencing a conversation I didn't have, and it took me a few to catch on.

No idea why this kid did it. Bonus: his dad was a minister in our town.

Catfish Stories facts PisoPinoy

31. My Way ‘Til Pay Day

Friend and I frequent dating sites. He was catfished once. Her name was Alexis McNally. She was the head RN at a hospital a half hour away making $150,000 a year and was in love with my friend. She was going to fly him to Vegas after 3 weeks of knowing him and they were going to get married.

He was happy as hell and thinking of pretty much nothing but the money and the hot pictures she was sending him. She said she bought him all this stuff and his kids iPad and computers and that she had a multimillion-dollar house she was going to live in with him.

He didn't think anything was odd, but I did so I did some research. First, I called the hospital and they said they never heard of her. Then looked up her phone number which the area code was from Ohio. After a while, he wised up and started calling her out on stuff. She ended up sending him a box filled with new American Eagle clothes for him and that was pretty much the end of it.

In other words, my friend got catfished and ended up with a box of free clothes.

Catfish Stories facts TF2 Freak Concept Wik

30. The Doctor is Out (of Existence)

My very good friend Ben's dad has always had an online girlfriend called "Dr. Sam." She was the reason Ben's parents divorced about 12 years ago. I don't know the story of early Dr. Sam, just that she claimed to be a doctor of some kind, and also have some kind of cancer.

Steve (Ben's dad) sent Dr. Sam all kinds of money. Enough that his wife divorced him. When those little hands-free phone headsets came out, he got one and was on the phone with her literally every second of the day. She would make him talk to her cats on the phone, and he'd be places like the grocery store, meowing into a headset no one could see.

He tried to visit her many times, but every time he had his tickets squared away, her cancer would come back and she'd need emergency medical treatment, or (I kid you not) her pet tiger would bite her and she'd go to the hospital.

Steve is a high-ranking naval officer. When he had to go to Afghanistan a few years ago, he sent his cat to live with Dr. Sam. She had it put down immediately, because "he wasn't happy."

Eventually, Dr. Sam claimed to have died.

I wouldn't believe a word of this if Ben's mother hadn't confirmed all of it.

Catfish Stories facts Know Your Meme

29. Wizard of Disguise

My ex-boyfriend met a girl on WoW who lives in Texas. He lives in the Midwest.

They talked for many months via WoW and email, but never via video chat. He told his parents about her as things were getting more serious, and they agreed to let her visit and stay at their house for a week so he and her could meet in person. The flight was bought for her, they discussed how excited they were to meet, and then the night before the flight, she admitted "she" was actually a 19-year-old gay guy.

Catfish Stories facts Dailymotion

28. Age Before Beauty

The first time, it was a girl who sent me pictures of her older sister, who was around my age. When we finally met for our first date, I realized that she was not the girl from the pictures because she was barely 18 and was enormous compared to the girl I had pictures of.

She was apologetic and explained that she sent me pictures of her sister instead of herself for various reasons. The lie about her age was only a slight problem because she had just turned 18 days before, so I wasn't in any legal danger. We remained friends for years.

Catfish Stories facts Life With Lauren

27. Fake Face Forward

Personally, I have never been catfished. However, when I was a sophomore in high school this girl I had been cool with for some time (she was noticeably a little out there) told me in class one day that she had used pics from my Myspace to set up a fake profile so that she could talk/flirt with this gay guy she had a crush on (not from our school). I was livid, let her know I was pissed. She felt bad and was apologetic, hence why she told me, and took the profile down.

Not something you think of happening, especially when you're 16. Still makes me raise an eyebrow whenever I think about it.

Catfish Stories facts MLP Wiki

26. Better Late Than Nevers

My best friend has catfished several dudes, back when Myspace was a big thing. She had very complex systems and fake profiles/photos, and she even stole some of my blogs and posted them as her own.

She was significantly larger than the photos she posted (they were stolen from a classmate's profile), and she would meet the guys after months of intimate phone/email conversations, then guilt-trip them into continuing the hang out with her. She told them it was her personality that mattered, don't be shallow, etc. It was some shady stuff, obviously rooting from deep self-esteem issues. Luckily, she grew out of it.

Catfish Stories facts Bustle

25. Nothing Heals a Heart

A fairly attractive Asian girl started messaging me in a chat room on I am lesbian, so the chatrooms for the women weren't really known for having bots.

She comes on strong and actually shows a lot of interest in me even though I didn't really have much interest in her at first since she was in Florida and I'm in Oklahoma.

I actually start to really like her and think maybe we could really hit it off if we met. We started talking/texting pretty much 24/7.

Then she tells me about how she can't date anyone locally because her dad is a marine engineer and builds multimillion-dollar yachts for famous people.

I don't really believe it at first, but she starts mailing me all these fairly expensive things like clothes, flowers, gift cards, etc. to 'prove' it, even though I tell her I didn't really want them.

The weird thing is she wouldn't tell me her last name and would be very weird about it, saying if I found it out I could Google it and it'll pull up her dad's yacht business and I could see how rich they really are and she wanted to make sure that I really wanted to be with her and wasn't just in it for the money.... Even though she kept sending me gifts without me asking to "prove" her wealth.

She also said she was a head hair stylist at Tony&Guy and made $700/day in tips.

Anyway, one of the gifts she sent the company sent a receipt slip that had her last name on it. I Googled it, and nothing really pulled up. Even (name) Yachts, nothing. (Name) yachts Florida, nothing. Nothing at all came up for it.

Things started to seem weird, so I called the Tony&Guy she claimed she worked at and asked if I could schedule with her. No one worked there with that name.

I waited a couple days to tell her that her name came on the receipt.

When I did she flipped out and said I was crazy, and that she was going to stop talking to me anyway because she has cancer, then hung up on me and disconnected the number within minutes.

It was so weird. I don't know what the point of that catfish was, I'm the one who got a bunch of stuff, and I didn't even ask for any of it.

Oh well, I still wear some of the stuff she got me lol.

Catfish Stories facts Imgur

24. Dishonorable Discharge

Nothing serious because I caught it quickly, but a guy claimed he was a Marine and posted a bunch of photos that he captioned "Me in Afghanistan" and the like. They were all different sizes / bad resolution.

A quick reverse Google Image search proved they were taken largely from articles written about military training exercises held in Nevada and one even had the subject's name and rank, which wasn't even close to the name he'd given me.

I called him on it and he felt the way to rectify it and prove he was real was to send me a bunch of dick pics. From there it got even better. The photos were of obviously different dicks. They looked nothing alike and another reverse image search brought up dozens of gay porn sites. I called him on that, too, and he proceeded to threaten me for disrespecting the Marine Corps.

It was actually kind of hilarious how terrible he was at it.

Catfish Stories facts Sought Out Generation

23. You’re the Bait

I have not, but my pictures were stolen and used by a 14-year-old girl to catfish older boys. I found out, not knowing her age, and was kind of pissed.

Once I found out she was a minor trying to meet 20-something guys, I was just generally concerned for her and what could have happened.

Catfish Stories facts The Independent

22. The Real Con Is Against Yourself

Only once, recently. It actually helped change my view of the practice.

I met a girl on OKC, very nice, we clicked pretty quickly and talked for about a month before deciding to meet up. There were no immediate red flags in her profile and her pictures looked legit.

We agreed on a park (I'm a cheap date, what can I say?) for our first meeting and I was lying back on a grassy hill when I hear a voice say my name. I look up and see...someone I don't recognize at all. I was confused and asked her if I knew her. She was quiet for a second before revealing it was the girl I'd been talking to.

She looked radically different from her pictures; the girl I saw in the pictures was quite pretty, very fit, looked like she took good care of herself. The girl that showed up...less so. She was much plainer looking, much more weight than the girl in the photos, and much less sure of herself now.

I asked her why she'd lied, especially considering that I actually did find her real self attractive. She burst into tears and said she was so scared that people wouldn't like her that she felt like she had to do this. She had a lot of self-image problems; her shirt sleeve slipped up a couple times and there were a lot of scars.

Initially I was pissed. I'm a really chill, good natured dude (at least I try to be) and I really hate when people take advantage of that. We talked for a little while and she admitted she was terrified of people and their reaction to how she looked and that this approach helped her get past that. I explained that lying about it wasn't going to help.

We actually had a pretty good conversation and kept in touch after that, but she stopped responding to pretty much everything about two months later. She stopped answering her phone and the texts dropped off. I hope she's alright and that she stopped catfishing people. It was a shame because I did actually find her attractive and she wasn't a horrendous human being, but I can't start a relationship on that big of a lie.

After that, I've started looking on catfishers with a little more empathy. A lot of them are people who have social issues and don't mean to be malicious or to hurt people. That doesn't make it more acceptable, but it's easier to understand.

Catfish Stories facts The Sun

21. At Least It Lasted

Started chatting with a girl on in the early ‘90s. This moved to the internet when that became more popular.

Finally decided to meet after four years. From the photos of her I had seen I was looking for a skinny white girl, she turned out to be an overweight Asian girl. She brought four friends with her to meet me as well which was a bit awkward. I ended up sneaking out of the bar we had arranged to meet at after about 30 minutes as I was really embarrassed, and her friends were asking me if I was still interested in her.

Her personality was still the same and all the stories she had told were hers but she was afraid I wouldn't be interested if I knew what she looked like.

I still speak to her every couple of months now 20 years later.

Catfish Stories facts OpenClipArt

20. It’s Now or Never

Once. It was actually my first online date, ever.

I ended up talking up a girl who seemed pretty cute. She was a little overweight, but not too much so. She told me she liked the same music I did, and that she liked video games, like Portal. Woo, fun. She also told me she was 22. Everything seems great, so we arrange to meet up, as she's two hours away. I make the drive, get to the town she lives in, and wait patiently at the local Starbucks.

That's when she comes up, and she's a good 100 pounds heavier than she looked in her photos. Definitely not "a little extra,” this was way more extra. Whatever, fine, maybe things will go better from here.

Sadly, not a chance. In conversing with her, it's clear that she, in fact, did NOT like video games, and she was just lying about her music tastes. She listened to nothing but gangsta rap the entire date (we took her car), and when asked about other music, she seemed outright clueless. Furthermore, she kept remaining adamant that I make a decision on wanting to be in a committed relationship by the end of the date.

Then towards the end of the date, she revealed that she was, in fact, a few days past 18 (and not 22, as she said before), and she had lost her virginity two days prior to our date. That's when it very clearly went into the realm of NOPENOPENOPE. Ended the date, left.

Two days later, she messages me again telling me she got with another guy, and that it wouldn't work out between us. Uh.

Catfish Stories facts Kerwin Rae

19. One Way to Get a Little Sister…

A while after me and my ex of two years split up I flew to Melbourne to meet with a girl I had been talking with for a month or two, my boss paid for me to go down for some strange reason (he gets in weird moods, right now I’m undoing two years of work).

I arrived to discover that the girl was in fact 15, me being 20 this was a big NOPE. The friendship connection was there but absolutely zero interest in pursuing a relationship or any intimacy.

First night we went out to a party and I egged her on to get with a guy she was interested in to get me off her radar.

They got together, whatever and came back to her house and stayed for the few days I was there.

I stayed at her place with her parents and her group of random friends a mix of guys and girls. I cooked them some breakfast and slept on the floor.

Ended up working out well for me anyway as Melbourne comedy festival was on so I just went to it by myself and had a blast taking in the sights and sounds of Melbourne!

Didn’t end up being awkward thank God, basically just had a new little sister and an adopted family to take care of for a few days with a free place to stay.

Don’t give up on online dating however, as a few months after that I met the girl of my dreams, flew up to Brisbane to meet her and we've been madly in love for the last year.

She 100% completes me and is a fantastic nerdy woman just a year older than me.

Catfish Stories facts From Reed to Rock

18. Dark Side of the Pond

I work as head of IT security for a large insurance company. One of the people I work with was recently scammed this way for over 250k.

Saddest thing I ever saw. She's essentially screwed. 56 years old and she got nothing. I did what I could to give her advice about her next steps, but couldn't convince her to tell her family, she's so embarrassed.

She met a guy on a popular dating site. The profile looked good to her and the two of them "hit it off." He claimed to be from the UK, but no surprise, turned out they traced it back to Africa.

They chatted for a couple months and money was never mentioned, but from time to time he'd talk about a business opportunity he had. He claimed he was getting close to putting it together and told her how excited he was and how much money he'd make. Promises to fly her out to the UK for a vacation started and marriage was being talked about.

Then the hook. He logged on one day and was very unhappy. He told her that he was short money and couldn't put the business deal together any more. He might even lose his house because of it. He convinced her to send $25k. He promised to return it with interest within a month.

Of course, things went sour from there. He continued to use various tactics (I won't go into detail) to convince her to send a little over $250k through 7 separate transactions. In the end, he had her doing transfers to other people's accounts (routed back to him no doubt) because Western Union suspected fraud and had stopped allowing transfers to him.

The wakeup call for her came when she saw a Dr. Phil show about this sort of thing. After seeing the show, she realized she may have been victimized and called the police.

A really sad story.

Catfish Stories facts Pinterest

17. Bros Catfishing Bros

I haven't but a friend of mine was Catfished to an insane extent.

Apparently, he had been dating this girl on Facebook for the longest time (around two years) and one night at a party got drunk and made out with a mutual friend. However, it was just a drunken fling with no attraction and as it turns out—he told the online girlfriend.

She proceeded to lock him out of his Facebook profile (since he had given her his password) and for the next two hours following she uploaded every single nude photo he had sent her. Literally.

Cover Photo. Profile pic. Shared multiple photos of just my friend, in the nude, in multiple positions and angles. Sometimes with a cowboy hat. Other times with a ribbon around his nether regions.

Needless to say, we all saw a bit too much of him.

Turns out at the end of it all, the girl wasn't real. It was a group of guys playing a really sick prank on him.

He's all good now though.

Catfish Stories facts diKHAWA

16. Mother-in-Lies

My ex's mother catfished several guys, eventually marrying one under false pretenses. She lied about every major aspect of her life, the biggest lie being that she had never been married, nor had any children. In reality she had been married twice and had two daughters in their 20s. She told her new husband that the two girls she talks to occasionally on the phone were friends she met in a cancer survivors support group, and that they had lost their mother to cancer.

At the time, her daughter and I had been living together for a few years, and eventually decided to get hitched. Her mom, fearing her cover would be blown at the wedding, decided very last minute not to show. After the wedding she wouldn't return any phone calls. A few weeks later we received an apology letter from her, typed on a typewriter, saying she couldn't make it because she had a stroke, which was also why it took her so long to respond (it took her a few weeks to regain the use of her hand). Years later when she left husband #3, she confessed to making up the stroke, as if anyone even believed her in the first place.

Coincidentally, her daughter, my now-ex, did some similar stuff a few years later to me. She became "just friends" with a guy at work and didn't tell him she was married. She eventually left me for him, thank God.

Catfish Stories facts RD

15. Putting the “Emo” in “Emotional Deception”

My best friend in high school made a Myspace page of this cute boy and started talking to me for several weeks. I started to like him and showed one of my other friends his profile picture.

She then says, "Hey I've seen that picture before..." Proceeds to go on some weird goth site she visited a lot and lo and behold, Peter's hot emo figure was there (I know I had bad taste back then).

But how did I find out Peter was my best friend? He eventually said something in one of the emails we wrote to each other only my best friend would know. Then I realized, whenever I was with my best friend, Peter would never reply.

He then owned up, saying he felt bad about how lonely I was and wanted me to feel happy. Btw, that best friend was gay so no, we did not hook up after that.

Catfish Stories facts Disney Wiki

14. No Rules in Love and Video Games

Yeah. This guy pretended to be a girl on Runescape for weeks just to "borrow" my abyssal whip.


Catfish Stories facts Old School RuneScape Wiki

13. Terminal Stage Lies

This post is a little old now, but I remember being catfished before it was a 'thing.'

I spent a lot of time on the internet when it was still a relatively new concept. I had made a group of friends that were girls in an AOL chatroom. We'd log in around the same time, chat for a few hours, and then log off. Well, one of the girls decided that it would be fun if they made an alternate persona to mess with me. They made a boy named “Josh” and introduced me to him as “Kate's” friend from school. We talked constantly from then on out. No cell phones so no texting, I was too shy for phone calls, so for two years (from age 12 to 14 at this point) I considered myself in love with Josh. I was sent pictures from some random Myspace of a boy I obviously would never be able to trace. I was young and naive, so I believed every moment of it.

Josh got diagnosed with cancer about two years into my first time in love. It was quick moving, sometimes I wouldn't hear from him for days during 'treatment,' sometimes Kate would tell me what was going on. I saved my allowance and did extra chores to send Josh flowers when I could, I considered myself an advocate for cancer research and volunteered for the cancer center and cried nightly thinking my first love was dying.

About six months into this 'aggressive' cancer diagnoses, I don't hear from Josh for a week. Some of the other girls are online, but none have talked to Kate either. So one day, Kate logs on. She tells me Josh has died. She was so sorry, everyone at her school was devastated. My world stopped. My first love was gone. I told the girls I needed some time, I would be away for a while.

I never logged back into that AOL chatroom again. About four years later, I get a message from a girl on Facebook. I have no idea who she is. She remembered my name though and told me that she had fabricated the entire thing because she was bored and wanted to see what would happen. She apologized for hurting me, but she didn't know an 'out' at the time, and hoped I was doing well.

I don't believe anyone on the internet is who they say they are anymore.

Catfish Stories facts From the Grapevine

12. Sing Me Another Tune

He was just really rubbish at being a catfish. His information didn't match his pictures. He said he was 5'10” tall yet his pictures showed him towering over his friends. When I asked him about it, he said he was standing on something...I then said his proportions didn't look like he was standing on something, his story changed to having not measured himself in a long while... The pictures where of a blonde haired, blue eyed guy, but information said brown hair and brown eyes...

When I jokingly suggested he was a catfish he got really defensive and said he was offended/upset. Surely a real person would just laugh something like that off?

Then he sent me a video of "him" singing and playing guitar, but it seemed like something had been cut off. I asked if he had a YouTube account, he said he had recently deleted. I searched YouTube for the song anyway and "he" was the first result, as I suspected an introduction had been cut off. In it, the guy gave his full name, which was different to what this guy had told me.

On googling the name, I found a music profile, and Facebook account, all with different information to what I had been given. All the pictures the fake guy had posted were on the real guys Facebook, plus loads more.

I couldn't be bothered to confront the catfish and present all my evidence as I thought it'd just teach him where he went wrong and possibly stop other girls realizing.

Catfish Stories facts Walter Norvell

11. No Harm In Being Sure

A friend of mine was dating my cousin, and she suspected him of cheating on her. So to see if he would really be capable of such a thing, she made a fake Myspace (yes it was back in the day).

She found pictures from the Internet of regular girls his type and compiled together the ones of girls who looked similar enough to be mistaken as being the same girl. It was actually pretty talented of her. Every picture was of a different girl, but you would have thought they were all the same.

I have no idea how many man hours she put into this account, but she friended my cousin and talked for a while, then asked to meet up. When my cousin said ok, my friend promptly broke up with him. It was total entrapment, but it got the truth out, so kudos to her.

Catfish Stories facts Inlife

10. No Turn Off Like “Safety”

Google Google Google. Actually, this guy was really convincing at first, and he may actually be who he says he is, but he is definitely hiding something.

He contacted me, amazing profile pics. Super attractive guy. Lots of tats though, not all professional looking. We chatted through the site, then email, then texts for about a week. He said he had just moved to Vegas from Michigan a few weeks earlier. I live in Southern California. I didn't put much effort towards him at first because the distance was a deal breaker for me, but he was persistent and so sexy looking! We really seemed to hit it off and I got drawn into the conversation. He would give vague answers and refuse any context (when I asked what brought him to Vegas, he answered "freedom, baby" ummm... ok), come on strong then drop off for the rest of the day, etc.

After three days of chatting, he called me, so there was a real person, who was male at least behind it for sure. He talked about trying to scrape up money to come visit, but he didn't have a regular job, he flipped used cars. It all seemed like he meant in the near future. Imagine my shock two days later when I get a call saying that he is in LA, has some meetings to attend, but will meet up with me at some point.

At this point, I scrambled to do the investigative work I had let go thinking nothing would ever come of it. I reverse searched his pictures, no hits. That can be a good thing, they weren't obviously stolen.

In looking at them closely, however, I realized that the "spontaneous phone pic" he had sent me had a TV on in the background and it was an episode of TMZ from months earlier based on the pics on the screen. No Facebook, no LinkedIn (from someone trying to find a job??), no online presence of him anywhere at all. He had a very common last name but a not super common first name, so I wasn't swimming in hits, I had virtually nothing. Then the clincher... a reverse phone lookup showed that his area code was for an LA suburb, and not a nice one.

When I heard from him again, I told him that I was excited to meet him, but I wanted to give him a heads up that I have a couple online dating rules and wanted to tell him ahead of time so that he wasn't caught off guard or insulted. I told him that we would need to meet somewhere public and that before I met him anywhere else, I would need to see his ID, and that I would be taking a picture of it and sending it to my best friend, along with a picture of his license plate.

I wasn't lying about these rules, I had used them with every date I had ever set up through online dating (including my now husband). He seemed perfectly fine with this, and commented "good girl, keeping yourself safe."

I never heard from him again and didn't push the issue.

Catfish Stories facts Inima

9. Throwback. Way Back.

Met this awesome chick while playing Counterstrike about 10 years ago. It was like we always knew what the other was thinking, which made for excellent teamwork in-game. I was 18 at the time, she said she was 20 and lived across the country.

She sent me a picture, but I was pretty sure it wasn't her. Didn't care though, she was cool. We spent pretty much the whole summer gaming together, nearly inseparable online. I eventually got frustrated cause we were never gonna get to meet, and she was always evasive when I'd ask for more pictures or details about her. Finally, just broke off contact.

Seven years later, typed her old Hotmail account into Steam friends, and sure enough she still used it. Chatted for a bit, we both felt like dorks about how we'd behaved when we were younger. I finally asked how old she is now, she said 19.

I count it out on my fingers. Wait, that meant at the time she was... 12?!

It figures, ‘cause I was pretty awkward and immature at 18, but supposed I should be lucky that she never sent me nudes or anything. We've stayed in touch since and have become good friends.

Catfish Stories facts Thought Catalog

8. Happily Ever After?

An otherwise pretty well-adjusted friend of mine was the con-man. On IRC, he was carrying on a relationship with an adult single mother whom he'd convinced that he was an adult from Ireland (he's from the US and was at that point still in high school).

I busted him, breaking it to her as gently as I could. Amazingly enough, she took it well and somehow the end result was that she became a long-time close friend of our group, in person and online.

Catfish Stories facts YWCA Greater Los Angeles

7. Some Questions Are Better Left Unanswered

Yes, this has happened to me once. I met a girl on this website called Tagged and she said that she lived in a city pretty close to me. We texted and talked on the phone for a few weeks and she had sent me pictures of a cute girl that I THOUGHT was her.

I'm not sure what tipped me off, but I eventually asked her to send me a time stamp with her face in it. She, of course, refused, naming every excuse in the book, but was still attempting to contact me in person. I was just playing along with it at this point because I figured that I was indeed a victim of a catfish and wanted to get to the bottom of it.

She eventually confessed to me that she was not who she had been saying she was, and that the girl she was sending me pictures of was actually her cousin. The weird thing is that she sent me pictures of her topless and such, so I'm kind of wondering how she got those pictures of her 'cousin.' The whole thing was weird.

Catfish Stories facts Small Business Trends

6. Who Needs Soaps When You Have AIM?

Back when AIM was all the rage, I started exchanging messages with a young woman. She described herself as being petite, attractive, and physically active, and the pictures that she sent seemed to confirm those claims. For a while, we discussed standard (boring) teenage topics... but eventually, our conversations took a turn for the bizarre.

One evening as we were talking, she told me a story about how she and her twin sister had "switched boyfriends" in the middle of the night. They were caught, and neither boy was particularly pleased about the situation... so in order to make it up them, the girls agreed to have a foursome. The tale struck me as being more than a little bit odd, but I could see no reason for someone to lie about it, so I went right on believing.

Things got stranger from there.

As the months progressed, I was treated to a dramatic saga of epic proportions. First, the girl's twin sister was killed in a car crash that also ended her father's life. Not long after, her mother was killed in an accident (which was strongly implied as having been a suicide). The girl herself—being under eighteen—was sent to live with her uncle, who forced her to work at a strip club in order to pay the rent. When I asked how she, a sixteen-year-old girl, was allowed to work there, she told me that "the fire marshal said it was okay." A week or two later, she attempted a suicide of her own, but was caught by her piano teacher.

That was about the time that the alarm bells in my head drowned out my sense of trust. I went back and reappraised everything that she had told me, and I noticed some rather glaring inconsistencies. After coming to terms with the fact that I'd been blatantly lied to for months, I started calling out every potential untruth that I spotted, and I gave the girl an ultimatum: Unless she came clean about who she was, I would cut off contact with her entirely. She protested at first, going through such acts as being angry that I didn't believe her and depressed because her "only real friend" had stopped trusting her word. Still, I stayed adamant, and eventually, she agreed to let me see her on webcam.

It turned out that she was an impressively overweight girl who bore absolutely no resemblance to the pictures that she had sent me. Her stories—or so she claimed—were all invented to "keep me interested," because (according to her) I wouldn't have kept talking to her if I'd known who she really was. Truth be told, she was probably right. Still, I made an effort to keep conversing with her after that, and to learn who she really was... but I never felt like I could trust anything that she said, and eventually, we just stopped talking entirely.

At least I never tried to meet her in person... which is more than I can say for the second time that I got catfished.

That's another story, though.

Catfish Stories facts Wired

5. A Mile In My Heels

When I was 18, I signed up for a dating site pretending to be a 15-year-old girl (the thought was just pranking a friend) the number of messages I got from creepy old dudes was amazing! (I'm a man, by the way).

There was this one guy, he was about 54 years old and a construction worker, who was VERY graphic in his first message, so I got curious and started talking to him, he was such a jerk. I told him I (my persona) lied about my age and I'm actually 13 years old, he didn't mind. I was disgusted by this guy, but curious, so I kept it going and he wanted to meet with me.

So I said sure let's meet, I would send him all over the country for a "date" with me, and I told him to buy all these ridiculous things like ballerina outfits, 4 dozen bananas (told him I wanted to have a banana milkshake party with some friends). I stopped doing this after like 3 or 4 days.

To be perfectly honest this was a learning experience for me too, I didn't know how creepy & messed up guys could be on dating sites & in general, I have way more respect & empathy for women having to put up with this stuff since then.

Catfish Stories facts Vox

4. With Friends Like These, Who Needs Enemies?

This is actually really horrible, and I still feel guilty to this day. In grade 8, my best friend, Sara, and I decided to make a fake MSN profile and add another friend of ours, Tim. We called ourselves "Brett" and chatted with Tim day after day, claiming to be Sara's acquaintance from the neighboring town.

We got him to confess a ton of things, like his crush on a friend of ours and that he found my mom hot. After a month, we realized we went way too far and shut it down. He would talk to us about Brett and that he missed having a guy to chat with. We felt horrible and promised we'd never speak of it again.

Sara ended up having her wedding in this neighboring town about 5 years later and Tim told me he couldn't wait to finally meet Brett in person. I'm worried for the day karma comes for us.


Catfish Stories facts PhraseMix

3. Too Young to Run

The second time I got catfished was the last time I tried to meet a girl online. I was a junior in college and had been talking to this girl a few states away for weeks online. She claimed to be 19 (I was 20) and she was a cute redhead in the pics she sent me, so I chatted her up regularly even though she lived far away.

At some point, she surprises me with her plan to take a bus out to my university and spend the weekend hanging out and partying with me. When I picked her up at the bus stop I barely recognized her. She sort of looked like the cute redhead I had pictures of, but waaaaaay younger, like she could be the daughter of the girl I had been talking to online. I played it cool, trying to be a gentleman, but quickly decided that spending the weekend partying with what appears to be a 14-to-16-year-old would be a bad idea. I told her that there were no good parties on the docket and took her home to my parents’ house where I figured we could lay low until Sunday when I could shuffle her back onto a bus and be rid of the jailbait.

Well, late the next evening while we were sitting on the living room floor watching a movie with my parents, the phone rings. I answered the phone to hear a crying woman pleading to know where her daughter was and if she is ok. That's when it hit me... I was harboring a freakin' teenage runaway.

I got the girl on the phone with her mom and started grabbing all of her stuff and putting in my car. Apparently, her mom had found my phone number on their phone bill and traveled to my school looking for her daughter. I promised to meet her on campus with her daughter ASAP. Well, we didn't even make it out of the driveway before the police cars showed up.

The cop looked at me, then pointed to the girl and said, "Is that her?", and I replied, "Yeah, take her home man" and that was it. Luckily for me, I think this girl may have had a history of running away from home because they didn't ask me a single question or anything they just took the girl and left.

Then my mom came out into the driveway asking why the cops were there... I had some 'splainin' to do. And then, when I returned to school, all of my roommates and neighbors told me that the campus police, local police, and state police had been scouring the campus for me and an underage runaway. I spent the next couple weeks explaining to everyone I knew how I got hoodwinked by an internet girl and that the police had the story wrong. It could have gone worse I suppose...

Catfish Stories factsBornstein Law

2. One Big Fake Family

This didn't happen while online dating, but it is a classic Catfish I feel. I got a message from a friend of mine who's a pretty well-known TV writer. He had tons of followers on Twitter but there was this one family in particular that commented and replied on everything he did, had their own conversations and lives going on. But he had a funny feeling about it.

This guy is in the US and I'm from Australia where this family was from, so he asked me to look into it. There were five or six women in this family—a couple of older women who were sisters and their daughters. Most of these had other people attached, husbands or children or friends. They all talked to each other about the TV show and characters and sent him questions. Some of them had a bit of drama in their lives—one woman was a cancer survivor, another had an autistic son.

Pretty innocent but I looked in to it. No one under those names existed as far as I could find, and a quick search showed that all their pictures were from Google searches: 'blonde model', 'pretty blonde girl', 'Australian beach girl' and things like that. Some of them were taken (randomly) from other profiles for consistency I guess—but then you had the obvious ones with watermarks and whatnot.

This continued for a couple of weeks without much happening and without us finding out anything new. We weren't sure the motivation other than just making life a bit more interesting (like the Catfish movie). And then—bang!—one of the young, pretty daughters got in a car accident. Put in a coma. The whole family was abuzz with talk. Of course, my writer friend offers his support and asks if there's anything he can do.

They give an address of the hospital and ask for some autographed photos from his show and maybe a couple of scripts if I remember. Ah. There it is! And at this point they start kind of soliciting other well-known writers, actors and athletes for help and sympathy. From the comments I read, they got a whole bunch of stuff sent to them: signed books, photos, autographs, flowers and more. The girl woke up for an hour or something one day and was very impressed and thankful for the gifts that were arriving.

At this point I was about to travel interstate. I'd called the hospital and the girl in there for a coma didn't exist on their records (of course!). From the other information they'd given him, we figured out the actual catfish's work (it was at the hospital) and home address. I was flying to their state the next day and on a day off I was planning to stop by their place with some flowers or something, just to see what would happen.

Anyway, the day I fly out they just fall off the face of the planet. After all the prayers and good will sent out by other Twitter people (they got a lot of attention, retweets and whatnot), they disappeared. It started with a message of 'oh my god she died!' or something along those lines, and then the accounts started to get deleted. All in one day.

So it ended there. I didn't go to their house. It felt dumb when I was thinking about it. It's funny how you can get an idea of who the person is behind all these personalities they've built. She was a 40-something woman, from what I could a rocky marriage, maybe not as pretty as she used to be. I don't think she had kids. Worked a crummy non-stop job at a hospital in Sydney's outer-outer-outer-suburbs. So it was something of an escape. Very Catholic. I don't think she deleted the characters because she thought someone might catch her—she had no idea I was involved at all, or that we'd figured out her address and that kind of thing. I think she just had a change of heart and realized it wasn't a particularly good thing to do—no harm came out of just having these characters talking and interacting with people, but the goodies arriving on her doorstep probably set her straight.

This probably happened a couple of years ago now. I have a doc on my old hard drive with a timeline and background on all the characters and what happened when I had it laid out. My writer friend didn't mind. I think he enjoyed following the story, seeing how it developed. And I think he felt a pang of—not pity so much—but maybe sympathy for a fellow story teller. So he doesn't mind he sent off all that stuff.

Catfish Stories facts HelpingMinds

1. Dial-Up for Murder

I only remember bits to this story so forgive me. When I was about 7 years old my mom was on AOL (about 1996) and had previously met a couple guys online, before online dating was known to be common or dangerous. She started talking to this one guy and eventually he planned to fly to where we lived and meet her.

This is where my memory gets sketchy, as she has only told me the story while drinking with me. He had claimed to have his doctorate degree and told her he had published a well-known book. She searched for the book and eventually she searched it in some online database (I want to say library of congress?) and found nothing. His lies before they met got worse.

Something led my mom to go to the police and they said he was actually a wanted man for previously killing or attempting to kill women.

The police used my mom to catch the guy at this point, he agreed to fly down here, and she was having him meet her at her office. When he arrived, the police were there to arrest him. I don't think he was charged with anything after that because years later he went to prison for something else and my mom was relieved to find out he had finally been locked up. I have tried to research the guy to find out more to the story.

Catfish Stories facts Twistvox


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