Catfishing someone is truly an awful thing to do — even the catfishers themselves sometimes admit their actions are terrible after they get caught.
Well, for every catfisher, there are many more catfishing victims. So, I asked the BuzzFeed Community to share the stories of how they were catfished in hopes of signaling some RED FLAGS for others. The responses were even more shocking than I had imagined, so let's get into it:
1."My grandmother disappeared in the middle of the night. Just left her condo and drove off. No one knew where she went, but she hadn't taken her phone, so I couldn’t call her or anything. We were close, so it was pretty upsetting for me. Then, I got a text saying that it was her and she got a new phone number, and that she had moved to New York City (she had previously lived in Los Angeles, and I lived there as well). I got photos of her in New York City as proof. My grandmother uses a specific way of speaking and texting — a result of having grown up in three countries — that most people are unable to replicate, so I ruled out the possibility of catfishing."
"We talked for months, and I was then invited to her apartment. A specific date and address was given. I flew into New York from Los Angeles on a red eye flight and took a taxi to the address. It was being inhabited by three 20-something roommates who had never even heard of my grandmother. I later learned that my grandmother was in fact living in Miami, but I did not learn this until after she died. I had been, it turns out, catfished by my great aunt. I texted her, asking why she would do this to me. She never responded." —Anonymous
2."I met a guy online through a gaming app, and we immediately started talking and he started telling me that he just ended his relationship and was trying to get back on his feet. He seemed very nice and I was helping him deal with his break up and we became really close. He was even showing me screenshots from conversations with his ex and asking for my advice. A month later, I got a message from him telling me that he was lying to me all along and that the picture on his profile was not his, but a picture he stole from another account."
3."My coworker met a man online from England and they 'dated' for more than a year. His daughter apparently needed surgery, so she sent him all her savings. The guy led her on for several more months, then told her he finally got together enough money to fly out to see her. She took a week of vacation, booked a romantic hotel and waited at the airport for him. Of course he didn't show. And disappeared online. I felt awful for her. She never did get her money back."
4."I met a guy through Hinge at the height of COVID. He was a total catch, so we started talking and I immediately felt an incredible connection. Obviously, I wanted to meet in person, but he was in another country, and because of flight restrictions, he couldn’t travel. One day, he started sharing his thoughts on cryptocurrency, I have no clue about those things, but I’m always willing to listen to someone who's passionate about something. He insisted that it would be a good moment to start investing, and he described in detail all the steps for me to follow, but I was very hesitant."
"He finally convinced me by saying that I could invest just a small amount until I felt more comfortable, and stupid me did it. At first, it went really well, I could almost immediately see my initial investment doubled, so I put a little bit more and then asked him about retrieving the money. He waited way too long to reply, but answered in the end. It was quite complicated, but I managed to receive my money back. Since I had proved to myself that it was all good, I decided to invest a big part of my savings. That’s when things really went south. One morning, I woke up with a notification from the cryptosystem informing me that there was unusual movement in my account and that they had blocked my money for safety. If I wanted to retrieve it, I would have to pay the same amount that was blocked. I immediately contacted the guy and asked for help. He was extremely kind and said he would solve it, so I gave him my credentials so he could retrieve the money for me and he confirmed that I needed to pay first. I refused and blamed him for putting me in this situation, and he started to laugh and insult me for being so stupid. That’s when I realized that I was being scammed from the beginning. I Googled the name of the cryptocurrency app with keywords like Hinge and scam and bam! At least four more people were also victim of this sick bastard. I lost a lot of money, not to mention my dignity." —Anonymous
5."A girl started following me on a social media platform and she looked quite nice so I followed her back. She had quite a sum of followers herself so I didn't think much of how she looked too pretty to be real. We started talking and became quite close friends. She even called me and started sending me voice notes so I never had a doubt. One day, my close friend and this girl, we'll call her Lea, started dating. I asked if she had ever met Lea and she said no. I started questioning this and decided to look at her profile closely. Her pictures didn't always match up, she looked like her body changed in sizes everyday, but I thought I was just being paranoid. Fast forward a week and a random girl messages me, saying Lea wasn't who I thought she was and to put her images into a browser scan. I did and, low and behold, all the pictures were slightly modified but taken off of Pinterest."
6."I was in an online relationship with a guy when I was, like, 13. First red flag was when he sent me a picture of himself, and I could see the reflection of a girl in the photo (like she had taken a picture of a picture). A few months later, a girl who was his 'sister' called me crying and said that he had died in a car accident. I was devastated and cried all night (no joke). I literally didn't even sleep before getting ready for school at 7:30 a.m because his 'family' was texting and calling me all night."
"About a week later, he texted me, but it was his 'ghost' and he couldn't understand how he was able to communicate with me via text since he was dead. I believed it for a little while, because I was a dumb kid, but it didn't take long for me to realize this was all bullshit." —Anonymous
7."Not me but my dad, long story short but my mom and dad recently divorced after 44 years and my dad turned to online dating very quickly after. He called me in a panic one day saying his 'love' had gone missing. I had no idea he was dating and this was only a month or two after they announced their divorce, but he asked me to track her. I worked for a large bank at the time, for 10 years, and know a thing or two about how these online scammers work. He came in and was telling me how he met her, showed me pictures, and I could tell right away that the woman was not who she claimed to be. They never talked on the phone, only by email, and she was supposedly getting ready to go abroad to do mission work in Africa since she was a structural engineer."
"I did do what tracking I could and when I broke the truth to him, he flew off the handle yelling at me that she was real. I talked to him later on when he calmed down and told him if she asked for money DO NOT SEND IT. I found out later on that he had sent her $16k and had yet to meet her. Most recently, he's talking to a girl in Florida and she got on a plane to NY to come see him and never arrived, so he filed a missing persons report with the police. The police told him she was a catfish and he does not believe him. These catfish have driven him into bankruptcy and living in poverty despite every person he knows telling him these are not real. I don't know what it will take for him to see the light."—Anonymous
8."I was like 10 or 11 and had a popular meme account and a couple of followers I’d chat with frequently. There was one person whose life was just way too dramatic. She told me that she was a teen mom, she had cancer, her boyfriend was dying from cancer, she had an eating disorder and only weighed 39 pounds. I went along with it because I assumed she was a sad teenager who needed some attention."
9."I was in high school and played basketball for my community’s league. I got a friend request from a guy that looked like your typical 'hot jock.' I added him back and we started talking every day. I told my friend on my basketball team about him and she told me she actually knew him from when she used to live in another town. I was thrilled because I figured she could help me meet him! Well, I started noticing he’d stop responding to me when I was at basketball practice or games. I wouldn’t even tell him where I was, but he’d just coincidentally stop answering. Then, when I started talking about him to other girls at school, suddenly they all started telling me that they were talking to the exact same guy. Long story short, a girl that went to high school with the friend from my basketball team somehow figured out it had been HER all along!
"When she got found out she was brought to administration at school where she finally admitted it had been her talking to all of us for MONTHS. Her principal made her delete the page, and we all individually confronted her after."—Meg
10."I met a good-looking age-appropriate man on a dating site and we chatted. When he finally told me his story, he said he was American, in the NSA, currently assigned in Germany, doing his last two months there, then retiring. He mentioned having a high-security, top-secret job. I accused him of being a BOT, which he denied. So, I said let's talk face-to-face, and he suggested Google Voice. I suggested a Zoom call. He said 'I'd rather do Google Voice,' and I said, 'I just sent you a Zoom link.' He got on Zoom with his camera off and I asked why his camera was off. He started in on some excuse and I cut him off and said 'You're just trying to scam me,' to which he denied. I told him he was not getting any money out of me, and he said he didn't want money and to let him explain. I told him I was not the one, disconnected, and deleted my Zoom. I then reported him to the dating site and they booted him."
11."I met a local girl on Tinder while playing travel baseball. I asked for a picture of her giving me the peace sign, just to be sure she wasn't a catfish. Two months and several photos later, I realized this person had just by luck happened to have the exact 'proof pic' I asked for. About two months after that, I found photos of me online that I had sent her with a completely different name."
12."The guy I was talking to's supposed 'cousin' was the one who showed up to the cafe to 'check if I was really me.' He asked me if I thought he was cute and if I wanted to sleep with him. I said no and never heard from the guy I was talking to again. So yeah, that was him trying to see if I would accept he was not the guy in the pictures."
13."A girl I went to school with moved to the other side of the country. I wasn't very close with her, but she was infatuated with my older sister. Not long after she moved away, my sister started texting with a boy who was apparently the girl's closest guy friend. They only texted, never spoke on the phone. The pictures he'd send were never of his whole face. I was suspicious and my sister was too, but she was also someone who fell hard for guys so she truly wished he were real."
"My sister wanted to visit this boy but my parents were very against it. It was a fight for weeks. The moment I knew it was catfish was when my sister told him that she could only visit if I came with her and I had zero interest in doing that. Suddenly, I started getting texts from a friend of this boy and he wanted to meet me too. It was so painfully obvious. Even after we called out the girl for being behind the two boys, she continued the ploy. Eventually all communication just stopped and it's a weird memory."—mrsburtmacklin
14."Started talking to this guy on a gay dating website and we kind of hit it off. After a few weeks, we met up and things seemed okay at first except he kept trying to buy me expensive gifts, even on the first date. I happened to be talking to a friend of mine on the phone and mentioned him. The friend asked 'Is he a pharmacist named *****?' My heart kind of stopped and I said yes. Turns out, the guy was more than a decade older than he told me and always buys guys gifts in the hope they don't dump him when they find out. Happened to my friend. I did not see him again."
Phew, that was a lot! If you've ever been a victim of catfishing, share your story in the comments below.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline is 1-888-950-6264 (NAMI) and provides information and referral services; GoodTherapy.org is an association of mental health professionals from more than 25 countries who support efforts to reduce harm in therapy.