Catfishing: Could it Happen to You?

What is catfishing? I am old school and we never heard of that word back in the day. We didn’t have access to the world wide web or social media or texting or cell phones. None of those things existed. The closest thing we had was advertising in the local newspaper in the singles column, which was just that, a column or two. Well, how times have changed and it was not until 2010 when my bubble burst and I was thrashed into this world of online dating. At the time it was all new and I thought it was cool to make a profile, post a few pictures and instantaneously receive messages from men who were interested in knowing who I am and what I am about. My naivety caused me disappointment and hurt. I believed what anyone said to me, that their pictures were how they looked today and they would do exactly what they said. Boy was I wrong, but as the years of being single went by, a new term was thrust out into the dating scene. That word was catfish or catfishing. Catfishing is a deceptive activity in which a person creates a fictional persona or fake identity on a social networking service, usually targeting a specific victim. The practice may be used for financial gain, to compromise a victim in some way, as a way to intentionally upset a victim, or for wish fulfillment. I remember thinking, “Ok that is a fish. How does it correlate with dating?” I recently found out exactly what it means firsthand.

I joined an astrological dating site called Nuit (free membership) in August 2022. The site matches you according to your star sign. On August 31, I got a message from Thomas. We started chatting and discovered we share the same star sign, Sagittarius. According to their algorithms, we were 94% compatible. We discussed all my favorite topics, travel, food, sports, live music, and many others that we had in common. He told me his wife had died 8 years prior and he had no children. I was excited about the opportunity of discovering more and see where this could lead. Now I know what you are thinking, that’s a red flag. It felt harmless to chat a little bit more. I discovered he was in the military and now held the ranking of Sargeant Major. Impressive!! I thanked him for his service as we continued to know each other. I suggested we text off the site, Nuit has glitches in its software and is difficult to navigate. We started chatting on WhatsApp

I was still on the fence about whether I could trust him or not. As time went on he became the only one on my radar and our flirty banter was fun and exciting. I mentioned to him I wanted to meet soon and he kept reassuring me that it would happen I said at least let me see you with a video call. He explained that it was not that simple to make calls due to his ranking and if he got caught he could get court marshaled. He was in Starke, FL at the Camp Blanding Joint Training Center at this time overseeing the special forces tactical combat and counterterrorism training for the infants in his regiment and I got a video call from him. He was in his vehicle, it was dark and fuzzy. He insisted he could only stay on a minute. We said hello and he immediately hung up. I was disappointed but didn’t want him to get into any trouble. It was obvious and believable to me that he was in the military so at this point I had no reason not to believe him. I don’t normally google search someone unless I am suspicious and want to confirm identity. He wrote with accurate and detailed grammar using military verbiage that I had only seen on the internet. He informed me he had 6 weeks to go with this training and then we could plan our meeting. I told him to just get back up with me when he was finished and we could see where things were. He insisted he could work out a way for us to meet before he was done but the use of cell phones was not allowed at the training. He was contradicting himself which made me pause. I was still being cautious and would not open up to him due to trust issues from my past. I kept insisting we talk on the phone at least but he would get defensive when I would push for it. He kept asking me to be patient which was another red flag for me.

He informed me that he has to deploy to Syria and will be gone for a while. Now I am getting suspicious because I am feeling very put off and asking myself if I was wasting my time. During the deployment he loses his phone he tells me and we must communicate on the google chat interface from the base. Oh geeezzz, at this point I don’t know what to think. I do care about what happens to him so I ask him what if something happened to him, how would I know? He told me he could add me to his military profile as his defacto wife so if anything happened I would be the first one to be contacted. It sounded strange but I agreed it would be fine to do it. I never saw any paperwork but I did give him my address which I should have never done. I could tell from his writing that he was falling for me. He was using the word “Love” a lot and it was freaking me out. I did not have those feelings as I need to spend time with someone to be able to fall in love, not just with written communication. Actions speak louder than words. But I would tell him what he wanted to hear to not upset him while he was overseas.

He was very reassuring while he was deployed (if he was, who knows) saying that I was the love of his life and planning our future together. I would get early morning greetings and he would always ask about me and my day. That is rare in the dating world these days. He then asked me if I had invested in cryptocurrency and he insisted I open an account and he would deposit some money in there. Which I thought was weird since most catfish will ask for money. He did deposit the money and it was confirmed with an email to my inbox.

He would get frustrated with me because I wouldn’t open up to him about my feelings. I wasn’t feeling what he was feeling so it was difficult for me. At one point I didn’t hear from him for a couple of days. When he did resurface, it was through a second number on google chat and that was another red flag for me. He started pouring out his feelings of love and at one point was asking to marry me. That was making me feel pressured so I knew I needed to verify his identity.

I googled his name and the pictures he sent me came up and confirmed the position he held in the military. I then went to Facebook and his profile came up. There was his wife and 2 children that he claimed he didn’t have from the beginning. I copied several pictures and sent them to him. He did not even try to deny it. There was a picture of him and his daughter just the day before playing golf when he was supposed to have been overseas so I knew his truth was out. I wanted an explanation but he would not give one and apologized profusely. Admitted he had fallen in love with me but said I would not understand the reasoning behind his betrayal.

I went on to contact the real Thomas through FB messenger. He did respond and sent me a picture of him and his wife with their grandbaby. And assured me that he was happily married. I told him he may want to make sure his identity had not been jeopardized because of what just happened and he thanked me. I felt like I had been slapped in the face. I have watched the show “Catfish” and never dreamed this would happen to me but it did and thankfully it was only a month and not years. I can see how people can get sucked into the attention, the compliments, the promises and just having someone to chat with on a daily.

BTW, I logged into my crypto account and the money was gone. His google chat account was blocked and all communication ceased. I was mad and hurt and felt completely let down. What is happening to this world? Why do people feel the need to be someone they are not? Have you had this or something similar happen? Would love to hear your story!!

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.

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