Not all online dating catfish are scammers out to steal money. Some do it because they’re lonely and want to make a connection.
Online dater, Emma Perrier discovered this the hard way.
After investing her heart and exchanging “I love you’s,” she found out that her male model love interest, “Ronnie Scicluna” was actually someone else entirely.
The catfish was Alan Stanley – a short, balding, 53-year-old man who used stolen images he found online and a phony name to mask his true identity.
Perrier was looking for love and believed she had found it with “Ronnie.” Catfish Stanley was invested emotionally, too. “I was on her journey in life, trying to guide her,” he said.
As their long-distance “relationship” grew, those in Perrier’s life began to grow suspicious.
Below, we continue this story by highlighting three key aspects and why researching your online dating match is so important:
1. Her Friends Though It Was Weird He Didn’t Want To Meet
And they were right. Not wanting to meet “in real life” is a classic sign that you’re dealing with a catfish. He or she might constantly make up excuses why he or she can’t meet in-person – which is exactly what Stanley did.
“Ronnie” repeatedly told Perrier he couldn’t meet her because he had “difficulty getting time off.” His real excuse was that he couldn’t bear the idea of revealing his true identity.
Lesson for online daters: If you’re in a long-distance relationship and this person doesn’t want to see you, it might be that he or she wants you at his or her own convenience, or you could be dating a catfish like Stanley.
2. She Ran A Reverse Image Search
At the influence of someone at work who told her “the guy doesn’t want to meet you … maybe it’s not even him,” Perrier uploaded “Ronnie’s” photo to a reverse image search and discovered an official Twitter account, Facebook and model-management website belonging to a man named Adem Guzel.
She confronted “Ronnie” and demanded an explanation. Stanley continued to deny he was pretending to be someone else.
Lesson for online daters: Don’t wait until you’re emotionally invested in someone to do a reverse image search of this person’s dating pictures!
3. She Fit The Profile Of An Online Dating Scam Victim
Catfish Stanley said he’s catfished single women at least five times before Perrier, adding that, “Catfishing is prevalent across the internet. Everybody does catfishing.”
Prevalent, indeed. According to a Consumer Reports 2016 Online Dating Survey of over 114,000 online daters, 12 percent said they were scammed, while 35 percent felt misled by someone’s online dating profile.
It might not have helped Perrier that she fit a major trait of an online dating scam victim: she was trusting.
Lesson to online daters: Take the time to learn about the background of your match. That starts with verifying his or her identity!
Fortunately, Perrier’s story had a happy ending. Amid her sleuthing into Catfish Stanley, she reached out to Adem Guzel (the person whose images were stolen by Stanley) to tell him what was going on. And… long-story-short, she and Guzel are now a happy couple.
Call it an unconventional modern love story, or an online dating nightmare, but one thing is clear: Beware of the catfish who’s after your money, and the catfish who’s after your heart.