Catfishing is a serious problem. According to the FBI, an estimated one in 10 online dating profiles are fake and over $50 million are lost every year because of romance scams. WTF? It’s so common, it even happened to me. I met a guy on a dating app who seemed too good to be true — and that’s exactly what he was. Luckily, I found out before he could really con me.
I got excited when a hot guy actually sent me a message.
Out of the blue, I got a message from (what looked like) a really sexy guy. I was immediately flattered but wondered why someone so gorgeous would be on a dating app. I was suspicious, but it was fun to talk to him, so I did for a few days.
Soon, he asked me out for coffee.
We had quite a bit in common and we seemed to have a connection. I wanted to see what his deal was and if we had chemistry in the real world, so when he asked me out to coffee after a few days of talking, I said yes.
Admittedly, something felt off.
It’s hard to explain, but I remember checking out his profile quite a few times after we’d planned to meet. Something just felt wrong about it. The picture he’d posted was the only one he had on his profile and it looked too perfect. I’m not talking Photoshop perfect, but like it was a famous person’s picture. I thought maybe I was just being paranoid, but I couldn’t shake the feeling.
I didn’t have his name so I couldn’t do an internet search.
If I’d known his last name, I would’ve quickly checked him out on Google, but I didn’t and it felt awkward to ask him for it. His first name was quite a common one and it didn’t come up on social media with the same picture he had on his dating profile. Ugh.
I did a Google image search instead.
My friends thought I was acting a little too stalkerish by searching for his dating profile pic on the internet to see if it came up anywhere, but I couldn’t let this go. All I had was a picture to work with and what I discovered was shocking.
The picture wasn’t his!
It belonged to a professional model in New York. There was obviously no way in hell this was the same guy. It immediately became clear why he hadn’t put any other pictures of himself on his dating profile. What a loser!
It all started to make sense.
Apart from the lack of photos on his profile, there were other things that had been weird which I hadn’t realized at the time. He didn’t fill out much about his profile and he didn’t make much effort when he first contacted me. His first message had been, “What’s up?” and although I’m ashamed to admit it now, I’d been intrigued by his photo so much that I’d started talking to him in spite of the generic introduction. He was clearly riding on this fake pic to get women and it was working.
I confronted him about his lie.
I was so mad, I sent him a message on the dating app and asked him why he felt the need to use a fake profile. He pretended not to understand what I was talking about. Then he asked me why appearances were so important to me. Uh, what?!
He was a scammer.
He tried to make me see that since we got along well and wanted to meet each other, I should look past the fact that this picture wasn’t his. I found that so ridiculous! It’s not about what he looked like or didn’t look like — it’s that he was scamming people and stealing someone else’s picture. I didn’t want to get into an argument with him because he seriously wasn’t worth it. I blocked him instead and was relieved I hadn’t shared any personal details with him.
Things could’ve gotten ugly.
Imagine what could’ve happened if I’d met this guy in real life? I would’ve been confronted by a guy who was very different from what he was pretending to be. It’s creepy AF. Even though my rule is always to meet guys in a public, busy place, it would’ve felt so scary to see that the guy approaching me was so different from his picture. If he could lie about something so big right off the bat, what else was he capable of? I didn’t want to find out.
He could’ve been dangerous.
How do I know what he was up to? This wasn’t just some guy who’s picture was a little younger or different from how he looked in real life — this was a guy who’d stolen another person’s identity and used it as his own! It was so much more sinister than a guy trying to look like he had a six-pack. He could’ve been seriously disturbed or psycho.
I realize now that my gut is my wingman.
My intuition wouldn’t let it go that something wasn’t quite right about this guy and I’m so glad I listened to it. It really is the most important tool to use when online dating. This experience made me so much more cautious about guys I met online or on dating apps. There are just too many sickos out there!
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