I Was Catfished: This Is What I Decided to Do About It | HuffPost Life
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When a man communicates first after matching on a dating app, I always respond. Every man I respect and admire including Steve Harveywho I think has one of the best approaches for helping men and women understand and love one another, says, "The man should pursue the woman. My response to "David Tee" -- "That is sweet. Thank you, yet technically you just have a crush on the image of me, not me. In the next couple of days, "David Tee" and I spent hours in extended instant messaging communication via Hinge.
He went into great details about his childhood traumas that contributed to his current relational issues. I was a sucker for his vulnerability as I had similar experiences in my childhood.
His words and stories seemed real. I also liked how he would find positive things to focus on.
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And there was plenty of "sexy talk" in our conversation. Again, my "oh what the hell" attitude got the best of me. He had me on two levels: Emotionally because I thought we shared similar backgrounds and could understand each other and physically because I could not stop fantasizing about him.
I was completely distracted by hopeful possibilities; however, I was also feeling pretty unhealthy about things too. I told him how I felt. I told him it felt unhealthy and I believed we should meet. He used his "childhood" traumas as an excuse not to meet and stated he was back in Canada at his "family's summer home" and would not be back in my local area until late August. I told him I was uncomfortable communicating via the dating app anymore and then he started texting me from a local number.
After two weeks of communicating via texts from this number, he told me he could no longer use that number because "his work" had access to it. He offered up the instant messaging app KIK as a solution. I replied, "I am not interested in diving deeper into the digital world. His first text from that number "Did we just break up? We had a couple more interactions and then I told him I was going to need a phone call in order to continue communications with him.
I let him know if this was not something he was willing to do, I would need to block any future communications with him. I got a confirmation that he read my message and then blocked him on Hinge. In the days following my decision to block him, I am embarrassed to admit I took a walk on the dark side.
I could not let it go.
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Who had I actually been talking to? Could he be watching me? Am I in danger? I wanted to get to the bottom of who this person really was. Was there any truth to his story? I got pretty angry too. I wanted this person to pay for wasting my time and I wanted to make sure he could not continue playing his emotional games with anyone else either. I called the first number he gave me. What a lying bastard!!
I researched the second number and realized it was just connected to another instant messaging app called TextMe. Somewhere about this time I reported the profile to Hinge because I was sure he was a catfisher now. I also did reverse Google image searches on all the photos he shared with me. I was surprised I did not find any matches so I decided to pay socialcatfish. By the way, I highly recommend this service to anyone that suspects they are communicating with someone that is lying about who they are.
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- I Was Catfished: This Is What I Decided to Do About It
The interface on the site looks impersonal yet a real person got back with me and asked me questions that ultimately lead to loads of information that helped me come to terms with what happened. I learned the real identity of the person in the photos.
My first instinct was to contact this man and let him know his photos were being used to commit identity fraud. Then I started reviewing his social posts and realized that words, phrases, topics and themes were similar to our conversations.
I also found a couple incidents where there was percent alignment to words and topics shared at the same time via our private communication. However, age, profession, location and relationship status where completely different from what "David Tee" presented. I also realized after going through all of his public photos that I had two photos he had never shared via social media. There were only two conclusions to draw from this -- either someone with close personal access to the "real" person in the photos created the fake profile or the "real" person in the photos was using a fake persona with his own photos.
I made contact with the "real" person and based on his response and lack of action, I believe the "real" person is behind the "fake" profile. After a lot of soul searching in regards to revealing what I believe is true, I decided to focus my attention on solutions instead of giving any more attention to this person who does not deserve even a second more of my time.
I will post an update to this article once I know Hinge has made the change.
I am also investigating what the policies are for reporting and notification of identify fraud on other dating apps. Going forward, I personally will only use apps that have a transparent process for reporting fake profiles and alerting users if and when they have been messaging with a profile that has been proven to be fake.
Secondly, I needed to come to terms with where I wanted to place blame. Allowing someone to see you via webcam, or to, for instance, undress on webcam, is particularly risky.
How to Use Online Dating Sites Safely: 8 Steps (with Pictures)
Keep antivirus software running and be wary of profiles without images in the first place. If they have an image, ask them to add it to their profile. Long-distance love DOES happen — but be wary. Profiles without pictures, details and interests are a clear warning of a fake profile. US law enforcement say that common signs are people who claim to be American but say they are working abroad, then suddenly need plane fare home.
Stick to reputable sites. Match will investigate rapidly. Other large, reputable sites have similar systems. However, sites which cater to a particular cultural group may achieve higher levels of trust if they fly under the radar of cyber criminals. This way, they can continue the fraud in private. Do not send money, ever. Even if the story is so tragic you feel you HAVE to help.
If the subject of money comes up early in a relationship, be wary. If someone asks outright for a Western Union payment or bank wire transfer, you may well be dealing with a criminal.
Speak to a site administrator if possible.