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Why deceive online? ‘It’s fun to mess with people’s heads’

Before Manti Te'o, the most well known catfish victim was Nev Schulman. He produced a documentary about his experience of falling in love with this woman Megan. Except the person he eventually met was an older woman, and wasn't anything like she described herself to be. (Image courtesy Catfish/Relativity Media)

Notre Dame football star Manti Te’o told Katie Couric, and the world, he thought he was having a romantic relationship with a woman on the phone and online. Turns out it was a dude, tricking him.

Ronaiah Tuiasosopo has a high voice and could be mistaken for a female since the two never met.

It’s easier for me to understand how Te’o was duped, than it is to understand why someone would set out to deceive another person in such a cruel way.

“I don’t know why I started doing it initially. Now I do it because it’s fun to mess with people’s heads and men are easy to deceive,” says Amy, who is behind at least two dozen deceptive online relationships. “It’s really fun.”

The 24-year-old from Kirkland sent me a Facebook message after I wrote about “Mark” in the story Catfish meets Fatal Attraction for a Seattle man duped online. She wasn’t involved with Mark, but she says “people like him make it easy for me to do what I do.”

I asked her to explain what she does and why. Here’s her response, which may or may not be true since deception is her hobby.

Men are stupid. They really are. They look at my pictures on Facebook and they fall in love with an image. If they wouldn’t be so shallow in the first place none of this would happen.

I had a real Facebook page initially and never got any attention from other guys in school. As soon as I changed the picture to some girl in Florida I don’t know the same (edited word) bags who ignored me in school would text and FB me all the time.

Once in college I met one of the guys on the other end and he was turned off by my appearance. The same guy who said he wanted to marry me because I made him happy literally ran the other direction. I’m not that bad looking, but I am a little overweight.

Anyway, now I do it because it’s my way of teaching guys lessons that they shouldn’t judge someone superficially. I won’t ever meet the people I’m carrying on with online. They fall for all my excuses of why I can’t meet them in person. If they get too suspicious to be worth the effort, I dump them and move on.

I don’t feel worse about myself that I do this. I feel better every time I check my email and FB and phone and have messages.

People who are catfish – a person who pretends to be someone they’re not particularly to pursue online romances – have issues.

Before Te’o, the most well known catfish victim was Nev Schulman. He produced a documentary about his experience of falling in love with someone who wasn’t anything like she described herself to be.

He now has an MTV series introducing viewers to the people on both sides of online identity hoaxes, provides insight into why they do what they do.

Schulman says there are generally five reasons: Revenge; Homophobia: Addicted to attention; Sexual-identity anxiety; Low self esteem.


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