“Unfortunately, I ended up kind of getting sadly duped, in a way. I haven’t had an agent in 10 years, and now I’m doing some of the most interesting films I’ve ever had an opportunity to play in.”~ Daryl Hannah
There’s this television commercial where a woman is talking with someone and she says that she is on her way to meet her boyfriend that she met online, who is a French model.
Out pops this homely looking guy who looks quite nerdy and awkward and he forces a French accent when saying “Bonjour!” and they walk off together.
Lately though a different story has come up in the news. Notre Dame football star, Manti Te’o evidently has been ‘catfished’ in a recent relationship that he had with a woman. Yet now there’s speculation in this unusual story of whether or not he was in on the entire deception because he had said that this woman had died. And the photograph that she used, was actually someone else’s identity of someone who is in fact, still alive.
urbandictionary.com defines ‘catfished’ as “Being deceived over Facebook as the deceiver professed their romantic feelings to his/her victim, but isn’t who they say they are.”
This kind of thing happens on a daily basis to many people. We just do not hear about it as much. Now its a hot topic. But honestly, deception via the Internet is more commonplace than one would like to think. We may not fall victim to someone who is lying about a relationship, but lies and deception are everywhere!
The Internet has become a safe haven for those who are callous in their desires to keep their lives secret. I am not saying that it is a bad thing to keep things your private life private, but these people who are duped by others are nothing but victims because the perpetrating person INTENTIONALLY lies and makes up this fictional characterization of themselves and professes intimate and romantic feelings to someone who is unsuspecting of their lies.
I was once a victim of this scheme a long time ago.
I was in communication with a woman who was professing romantic feelings towards me from west central Iowa. She claimed to care about me, and told me that she was someone who used to be in the medical field and therefore she would know how to take care of me and all of my needs, since I was in a wheelchair.
She taunted and teased about driving to where I lived at the time, to see me. But I called her bluff. Not on what she had been telling me, but rather the fact that she and her roommates were going to just drop everything in Iowa and drive all that way to see me in person two states away.
Little did I know that this woman and her roommates were notorious for spontaneous road trips like that. So when I called them out on it in the chat room, the following morning, they were on the road.
She and her roommates actually started the long drive to find me. And I thought that I was only moving the relationship to the next level since we were about to meet each other face to face. She and her roommates took me back to their place and allowed me to stay for a week. And that week actually ended up being ten days, due to heavy snow that fell in the area.
But the woman honestly had no interest in me. I spent more time talking with the others who lived with her in the house. They would hold a house party for many people to come by and meet me, since I was not from that area. Keep in mind, these people were all found in a chat room for people in Iowa. Which I probably should’ve mentioned earlier, but they didn’t discriminate against you if you were not from the state. The house though was legendary for their chat room house parties. People sleeping where they had passed out from a night of drinking.
After the first party in the house, I would learn really soon that the woman who had professed a romantic feeling was in a contest to see how many men she could convince to fall in love with her. I wouldn’t actually say that I had those exact feelings, but I was interested at the time to have “someone special” in my life. And knowing that she was not going to discriminate against me because of my physical disability was a winning factor.
The ride home was terribly excruciating as she had brought her TRUE boyfriend with her, who was also in on the game of seeing how many women he could get to fall in love with him via the chat room on the Internet. By the time I had arrived at this woman’s house, I was number six, and she had been working on two other men… numbers seven and eight. And her true boyfriend was way behind with only four women that he had deceived.
Then less than two months later, I was in communication with a woman from Des Moines, Iowa and she professed romantic feelings towards me and the desire to meet face to face.
I was to spend Friday evening through Sunday morning with her at my home, then for two weeks I would travel back with her to Iowa and spend more time with her. It would end up that this woman was not really who she said she was at all. And instead of spending two weeks in Iowa, I spent three weeks there. Trapped in her house without any means of escape or rescue.
But there were definite red flags that I failed to recognize, along with her lies. I knew that she had two children, and I knew that her mother was still alive. But I did not know that they were all living in the same house together. If it wasn’t for her mother spending hundreds of dollars for a plane ticket back home for me, I probably would’ve been held captive for much longer than three weeks. I felt horrible that this woman’s own mother dipped into her retirement funds to get me the hell out of town.
I knew that she was working at a hospital. But I didn’t realize that she would work every day for twelve days straight for 12 hours. And there other things about her that I THOUGHT I knew, but didn’t know the full story or the entire truth of what she had told me. Of course, she would only tell me the things that she believed I wanted to hear.
Probably the only great thing that came out of the three weeks of imprisonment was that during one afternoon on one of her days off of work, I got to meet several members of the heavy metal band, Slipknot, without their masks on.
Needless to say with those two experiences, I highly doubt that I will ever return to the state of Iowa again.
As I said, there were warnings and red flags.
If you can learn to recognize them early, then you can help protect yourself from being catfished.
If for whatever reason, you are in communication with someone that interests you and you have spent a lot of time talking on a personal level with one another, and they refuse to show you a photograph of themselves… that’s a dangerous sign. Either they are extremely insecure on their looks OR they are not who they say they are.
That was one thing that this woman kept from me, until about two days before we had decided on meeting one another. Instead of calling the whole thing off and walking away from it all, I thought that I would be nice and carry on with the meeting and travel. Clearly, that was something I shouldn’t have done.
I’ve also requested a photograph before and I would be deceived by receiving a photograph of some random model that I was not aware of until it was almost too late.
This is why I’ve made it a rule when it comes to interacting with someone that you have involved yourself in a relationship with. And it doesn’t matter whether or not if its romantic or just a friendship. With the invention of video chat programs, such as Skype, you are able to see one another and communicate. If what you are seeing during your video chat session does not add up or equal to other photographs that you have been told is that person, chances are that you are being lied to.
Another way to tell that you are communicating with someone who just wishes to deceive is the lack of personal information. If you have expressed feelings for one another, there’s no excuse to keep secrets from one another.
I came pretty close last year on Facebook to being deceived when I added a woman to my Friends List. But once I sifted through her photographs and none of them were matching up, and I was asking questions that were random and not really all that personal…. she blocked me, saying that I was being too pushy for information.
Another way that you can tell that you have been victimized by someone is a faked death. Or in some other cases, that person up and suddenly took an extremely long “vacation” and by the time they return, you’ve almost forgot about them. This tactic is used when the person who is supposed to be the victim of being catfished is getting too close for comfort for the liar, and its their way of getting out of their sticky situation. They fake their own death and they disappear from the Internet and just start over again with a brand new identity and hope that you are not able to track them down again.
There are some really sick people out there on the Internet. And there’s honestly nothing you can do about it once you’ve realized that you have been duped. Well, the only true thing that you can do is walk away from that person and refuse to let them continue to spin their web of lies and have you believe them. Its not easy to swallow when you realize the truth. I know, I’ve been there. But at that point, the damage is done.
Keep in mind that there are so many other danger signs when it comes to finding people’s true virtues or their desires to be deceitful. Knowing them and recognizing them can save you a lot of heartache, and in some cases, it can save you a lot of your personal time, energy, and yes…. even money.
I do not know the whole truth behind the sensational story of Manti Te’o. And we may or may not ever really know. If he was behind it all, then he will have deserved the scrutiny that comes with it. If he was a victim, then I am guessing that sympathy towards him will come pouring.
Know your boundaries. Figure out the warning signs. If something seems weird, then it probably is deep down. And there’s nothing that says that you cannot investigate and ask questions to the other person. If they are unwilling to answer your questions about them and their life story, then do you really need them in your life??? Probably not.
You actually deserve someone in your life at that magnitude who will be completely honest with you, and you should be completely honest with them in return. Life is far too short for lies and speculation and distrust.