Someone may seem like Mr. Right online, but they turn out to be the complete opposite in real life. With all the technology and media at our disposal, it's shockingly easy for someone to create an entirely fake persona online to fool people with. The individuals in these stories were totally blindsided by the actual people behind their onscreen characters, with many even falling for dangerous scams. This tantalizing content has been edited for clarity.
"Many years ago, I started talking to a guy called Zack. He lived in Pennsylvania. Nice lad. We spoke daily online. We did this for a year or two. We never bothered going on webcam with each other.
He told me about his family. His mother and sister had left him alone. He had never met his dad, though had heard stories of him being completely terrible to his mom. One day he came online and just didn't seem right, I was asking what was up. Had something happened at school or with friends? He told me he had to go on webcam.
So webcam turns on and there's this girl. She looked about 14. Zack was 16. I had been talking to 'her' the whole time. Except I hadn't at the same time. Zack died a few years back. When he died (I have no idea what had happened to him), his little sister took on his personality. She had finally told her mom she has been speaking to me and her mom explained a few things to me. She believed she was Zack a lot of the time. She spoke like she was him, told people she was him. It was always his sister. I had never spoken to Zack. I felt like I lost a friend when I found out he was dead, even though I never got to speak to him.
So the whole time, I had been talking to a personality of a mentally ill girl. I was shocked and upset. I still struggle to get my head around it. I just wish I was a little older at the time, so I could have better understood what was going on."
"I found out a few weeks ago that my pictures have been used for catfishing for over 10 years! A woman my age has been pretending to be a guy a few years younger than me, and she has been in an online relationship with two girls that started when they were 11 years old! This included making over 15 profiles of my family and friend's pictures with fake names and over 8 twitter accounts (there may be more, I just haven't founder them all yet). They even went as far as to make phone recordings of my videos and upload them, along with pictures of me intertwined with pictures of one of the girls with a love song behind it.
They created a twin brother for 'me' and photoshopped me into pictures of myself to make twin pictures. One of the twins died at some point, and the original 'me' used to check in at a crematorium with a memory every now and again. The woman doing this lives within 10 miles of me, but I have no idea who she is. I spent 4 hours at the police station yesterday trying to describe it in a statement.
One of the girls thought something wasn't right and did some investigation around the address given for the sending of presents and trawling online. Eventually they found the real version of one of the fake accounts (by matching pictures) and tracked me down to tell me through that."
"I was 'in love' (I was a naive high schooler) with a girl I went to school with. I started talking to her on social media right after summer break happened. We were both too busy ever get together due to sports and stuff, so it was only ever a relationship over the phone and online. It eventually became emotionally abusive because she would use my past mistakes with girls against me (she was a good Christian girl, I had been promiscuous with girls occasionally). When school started up and I tried to talk to her, she would act creeped out or bothered. I assumed it was because she was embarrassed by me because of my past or that I was kinda dorky, so I stopped going up to her in person.
It was an off and on phone relationship that was really abusive to me, but I stayed in it for a long time because I convinced myself that she was 'the one' and made me a better person. After a year or so, we decided to sneak out of the house at like 1 in the morning and meet up in her backyard. It was in the woods really late, so I couldn’t really see her that well. We started ‘fooling around,’ but as my eyes started acclimating to the dark, I started to realize this wasn’t her.
Eventually I realized it was her mother. I didn’t say anything because I was afraid if I called her out she would start yelling at me or something (not to mention I was traumatized at that point). It turned out her mother had been pretending to be her daughter the whole time, using her social media profiles and everything. Because she is her mother at a pretty small school, she knows all of her daughter's friends and was able to talk about things, so I was never suspicious. Also understand, her mother and her look kinda similar.
Eventually I called her out about it. She denied it but continued to stalk me. I couldn’t get a restraining order (I believe because the typical gender roles were reversed). The mom thought I would tell the daughter and other people, so she started telling people I was stalking her daughter. Most people believed her, because in a sense I did, considering I thought I was talking to her daughter (which explains why she was creeped out the few times I talked to her in person). I had minor PTSD and it took several years to cope and recover from that whole 2 year charade."
"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 she 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 we 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 things 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."
"About 7 years ago, I catfished my then-boyfriend because I had a hunch he was trying to cheat on me. I had caught him chatting online with other women a couple times already, and it wasn't just innocent conversation either- very explicit dirty talk, begging for nudie pics, and trying to get them to come over. He cried and groveled each time I caught him- it was 'just chatting', he wasn't actually going to do anything, he'll never do it again, blah blah blah. I didn't catch him again for a while, but I just had that feeling, you know? I should have just dumped him after the first offense, I know, but I was a lot more naive and forgiving in my 20s.
Anyway, I made a fake profile with some random hot girl's social media pictures, named myself 'Ashley Adams,' and I made up a backstory that included cheerleading and modeling. The profile was comically fake, but I knew he'd fall for it because he wasn't too bright, especially when women were involved. I added him as a contact and waited for the first chat. I didn't have to wait long at all either. As soon as he popped online, he took the bait.
'Hey, want to chat?'
Why yes, 'Ashley' would love to chat, and she thinks you're super cute, too. He asked me for nudes, asked me where I lived, and was happy to hear that 'Ashley' only lived one town over and could be there in half an hour. I agreed to come over, and he gave me his address and told me to just come right in and jump on him.
I waited about 15 minutes and then headed over to his apartment. I went right in like he requested, and I saw his expression change from excitement to panic when he saw me walk in instead of Ashley. He asked me what I was doing there, and I acted innocent and said I just wanted to spend some time with him. I could tell he was trying hard to come up with a reason why I couldn't stay but since he was hanging out in his boxers with the lights dimmed, he could think of none that weren't incriminating, so I made myself right at home. I didn't let him know he was busted, I just sat there and enjoyed watching him squirm and glance nervously at the front door every time he heard a noise.
He must have been terrified, expecting Ashley to show up any minute, while his girlfriend was cuddled up right there next to him. I hung out for several hours, just relishing his discomfort. He realized Ashley wasn't gonna show, and he tried to get frisky with me instead. Sorry babe, I'm suddenly not feeling very well!
I did dump him a few days later after finding proof of real-life cheating on his phone, but I have to say, catfishing him was actually pretty fun. Stupid idiot."
"When I was 15, my dad brought in the first computer to our house. I was totally addicted to 'The Vampire Chronicles' by Anne Rice. Well first thing I do is look up message boards for the books. On this board, people play the vampires from the books. You could talk to them and email them as these vampires. It was a pretty dope place. Like they'd NEVER break character. Even going so far as to only log in to instant messenger when the sun had gone down in their geographical location.
So me being an inexperienced, closeted, gay teenager, I start getting obsessed with this message board. I start talking to the different 'vampires,' and I end up talking to one a lot online. I admit my gayness, he falls in love with me, thus begins a torrid online affair with a vampire. He never broke character, it messed with my mind a bit. This 'relationship' goes on for months, including steamy messages, love letters, and he even makes me a website declaring his love for me. And then my father finds out.
My father loses his mind, decides I'm being taken advantage of (which looking back now, I totally was), so he calls the cops and puts me in a mental hospital. Meanwhile, the 'vampire' goes underground, freaking out because the cops get ahold of his email and messenger name. When I get out the hospital, the first thing I do is get to a computer to message him. He says to me, 'You're dead to me, I've already had your funeral.'
I am utterly destroyed. The cops never find out who he is, and I have to rebuild my teenage psyche. Funny enough, I ended up finding my way back to that board a few years later. I ended up meeting that vampire. Turns out the gay vampire who helped me accept my identity was actually a 40 something year old single mother of two with major issues. She was from Ohio and even talked in a fake French accent."
"My friend from high school was catfished. It lasted so long and was so ridiculous that it became a legend in my school.
He had come out as bi during our junior year, but he never had the courage to ask a guy out. Fast-forward a few months later, and he starts talking about his new boyfriend from Japan. We don't think anything of it, since many of us at one point in time had done the long distance thing.
As the months went by, things started to get suspicious. He had his new boyfriend on his social media, and every single picture was of various cosplayers that were easily traced back around the web. He would constantly send his Japanese boyfriend videos showing his typical day, but would only ever get text and picture responses in return. My friend constantly tried to set up meet ups and Skype dates, even going as far as raising money for him to take a trip to the US (he never sent the money, thank god).
This is where things started to get ridiculous. His Japanese boyfriend revealed to everyone that he couldn't travel to America because he was dying. Apparently he had been in a car accident as a young child, and the 'internal bleeding' caused by it made him very sick. So sick that on the day he was supposed to travel to the US, he passed out in the airport and was rushed to the hospital. My friend believed all of it, even after his mother, a nurse, told him that it was impossible for him to have internal bleeding from an injury in the past. The illness sent my friend into a depressive spiral. During this time we discovered who was actually behind all of this. It was an obnoxious girl in our group who was seriously obsessed with my friend. Even after confronting her about it, she continued to deny it was her and kept on playing the charade. Eventually his fake Japanese boyfriend died.
But that's not where the story ends; just a few weeks later my friend, desperate for emotional comfort, begins to date his fake Japanese boyfriend's roommate. This relationship lasted over a year, and at some point the girl who was catfishing stopped trying to be sneaky. His dates with his fake Japanese girlfriend were over the girl from our schoo'ls instant messenger with the excuse of, 'she can't make her own profile because she lives in Japan.'
My friend believed all of it, even when he tried to get her to come see him. She eventually 'took her own life,' because the pain of her lost roommate was 'too much to handle.' It would be months before he picked himself up again, and it would be months after that before he believed us that the girl from our high school was the one who had been doing it."
"I work as head of IT security for a large insurance company. One of the people I work with was recently scammed for over 250 thousand dollars.
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. He promises to fly her out to the UK for a vacation, 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 anymore. He might even lose his house because of it. He convinced her to send 25 thousand dollars. He promised to return it with interest within a month.
Of course, things went sour from there. He continued to use various tactics 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 wake up 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 fairly attractive girl started messaging me in a lesbian chatroom. 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 was in Oklahoma. I actually started to really like her and thought maybe we could really hit it off if we met. We started talking and 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, and gift cards 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. 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 in order to 'prove' her wealth. She also said she was a head hair stylist at this one salon and made $700/day in tips.
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 salon 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 she 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 stuff she got me."
"My sister and I have suspicions that our mother was a catfish. All the signs were there. The bad part was that she used my sister's pictures. My mother had asked my sister one time how make multiple social media accounts, would close her laptop whenever you entered the room, kept tape over the camera on the computer, and her phone would ring all the time, but she would never answer it.
My sister told me one time how she was out with our mother and our mom's phone rings. My mom's kinda getting panicked, so she asked my sister to answer it. At first my sister hesitates but agrees. She said there was a guy on the other end with a funny accent she didn't recognize. I guess the guy started asking her random questions on what she looked like and stupidly my sister answers him. She said that the guy asked her what happened to her Irish accent. My sister said she got creeped out and hung up on the guy.
Shortly after that, my sister moved out and got her own place."
"My buddy was living with me at my parents' house because he didn't have a stable home life. He'd never really dated anyone local and had a lot of relationships over the net, but this is the only one that ever directly involved me.
He'd been talking to a girl on the net - we'll call her 'Sam' - and they were getting serious after a few weeks. Finally, she asks if she can come visit for the weekend, and after getting consent from my parents, they were given the OK.
Just to be certain, my mom made sure I talked to her parents beforehand. I get on the phone with her dad and am like, 'So this is cool?' and he's like, 'Yeah, it's all good.'
So we drive from SW Michigan to Indiana to get her. This is before Google Maps and smartphones being the norm, by the way - so we ended up getting real lost.
We finally get to her town and give her a call to tell her we're there, and she tells us to pick her up at an old schoolhouse down the road from her place. That's when the first alarm goes off. I call her dad again, and he's still like, 'It's cool,' so we pick her up at an abandoned schoolhouse in the middle of nowhere Indiana.
She gets in the car and I immediately think to myself that she doesn't look 18. Like, by a long shot. I had to guess she was around 14-15. Alarm number two - I call the dad again, and then we all talk - everything is still ok. We head back home with the two of them sucking face in the back the whole way home.
We get back to my place and after immediately walking in the door, my mom gets the same feeling I did and thinks the same thing - that she's not 18. So she pulls Sam upstairs, and we're in the living room figuring this all out when a cop pulls up to the house. Mom's freaking out, my buddy is freaking out, and she just gets real quiet. I go outside and the cop asks if Sam and my buddy (he calls him by name) are here - I'm just like, 'Yep, they're in the living room.'
Turns out she's 15 and had run away from home. She was staying with her older brother, who was unaware of the fact that she'd run away from her parents' place. She'd told her parents she was going to stay at a friend's for the weekend, then went to her brother's place and told him that she was staying with her boyfriend that had moved into Michigan. Why he told me he was her dad never got figured out.
At this point, I think I'm totally messed, because I'd just driven this runaway minor across state lines. Plus, I'm 20, and she's 15 - I'd just basically committed a kidnapping. The officer takes her to the station in his car, and tells me not to worry.
We found out later that day that she'd had a history of running away, and after my mom and I had spoken with her parents, they were completely apologetic of the whole thing and said they wouldn't press any charges. She went home and my buddy was the object of everyone's torment for weeks."
"I started talking to this woman about 3 months into a 6 month IT contract I was under when I lived in West Virginia. She seemed like a nice woman with two kids. When my contract was up three months later, she wanted me to move to Florida to be with her.
It turned out she was nothing that she said she was. She pretty much used me for free babysitting, for money, and I caught her trying to steal my identity, which was the last straw. In the end, I discovered that she was also super shady when it came to her kids. I think she was trying to sell her kids' custody to rich people to 'give them a better life.' And she was pushing her kids on me, so I'd start to love them (which I did), so that when she tried to leave, I'd pay her for her kids because I loved them so much.
The last time I contacted her was when some pictures of her kids 'somehow' ended up in my belongings. She heavily hinted that she had given custody of her daughter to some couple in Florida. It hurts my heart as those two kids were amazing. They deserve so much better than their wretched mother.
She didn't have her own house, she was living with that 'ex boyfriend.' She and I slept together once, and that was when her 'ex-boyfriend' was at work as she didn't want to upset him. She didn't have a job. She lost all of her teeth somehow - she wore fake teeth in all of her pictures she sent to me."