With massive media attention on the Manti Te'o case and a new TV show, the practice of catfishing seems to be revealing itself as a more common occurrence than anyone thought.
After years of not sharing his story with anyone, KIRO Radio's Don O'Neill decided it was time for him to join the ranks of those bravely speaking out about being tricked by someone online.
Don's story begins as many do. He met a woman on an online dating site and they began chatting. The exchange was done mainly by text messages at first.
"We're texting back and forth and then I decide it's time to take it to the next level," which Don explains is a phone call.
"For whatever reason when I would call she was never available," says Don.
The woman also told him she had a dog that did not do well with loud noises, and that was one of the reasons she didn't talk on the phone.
Co-host Ron Upshaw asked Don how that didn't tip him off that something was up. But Don says he'd never dated anyone online before and thought it was a little odd, but at the time it didn't stop him from communicating with the woman.
Finally, Don insisted they have a meeting. He told her he was tired of texting and she agreed it was time to meet, so they arranged a dinner date.
Don and the woman planned to meet at a downtown restaurant that he was pretty familiar with. When he arrived, he didn't see any woman yet, so had a quick chat with the manager, who he knew from his frequent patronage there.
After a few minutes, Don decided to text the woman to see where she was.
"I'm like, 'Hey I'm here,' and she's like, 'I'm here too.' And I'm looking around the restaurant and there's nobody in the restaurant except for this woman that is sitting next to me. She had to be probably 60 years old."
Don couldn't imagine this was the woman, but she looked up at him and gave him a big smile.
"She gives me this nice, beautiful smile and the only problem is one of her main teeth, like one of the ones you really need, one of the ones that is up toward the front, that tooth was gone."
The woman identified herself as the person Don had been chatting with. But Don says the woman sitting in front of him was not the woman in the pictures he'd seen on the profile.
"The woman online said she was 31. She had all these pictures up, and she said that she's a pro athlete, and she had all these pictures of her being a pro athlete. And I'm like this is not a pro athlete that I'm sitting next to, and it's not even an older version of this woman. It wasn't the woman."
Don didn't know what to do and decided to just have dinner with the woman. He says it was terribly awkward, and the whole time he was trying to figure out how to get out of there. After eating quickly, Don got up for a quick trip to the restroom and grabbed the manager to try to expedite the process of getting out.
"I walked over to the manager and I took my VISA out and I said, 'Here.' He said, 'Are you ready to go already? Because Don I'm bringing out dessert for you.' I'm like, 'No, don't do that.'"
Don says the manager insisted, and then the worst part.
"He said, 'No I'm going to do that [bring dessert]. It's the least I could do for you and your mom.'"
The manager had confused Don's 60-year-old date for his mother. Don didn't feel like he could explain himself to the restaurant manager and after the whole thing was over he didn't want to share it with anyone. It was just too much of a nightmare.
But in the last week, it's become obvious that a ton of people have been tricked online. Understanding how awful it feels, Don decided it was time to share his story along with the rest of the masses that have been duped.