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catfish

By Amy Donohoe

Catfish has been used as a phrase since 2010. Catfish: The Movie is credited with coining the term catfishing: a type of deceptive activity involving a person creating a fake social networking presence for nefarious purposes.

Nev Schulman became the subject of the documentary Catfish, it showed Schulman on the journey of falling in love with a girl he meets on the Internet, but later finds out that she may not be exactly who she claimed to be.

His Catfish pretended to be a woman much younger than herself in order to build a relationship with Nev. She did this to mentally escape the confines of her marriage, in which she is mother to two disabled children. She stole pictures from a professional model and photographer she’d never met and she was also running 15 other equally fake profiles on Facebook.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Nev Schulman (@nevschulman) on

In 2012, Schulman became the host and executive producer of the follow up show Catfish: The TV Show for MTV, with his filmmaking partner Max Joseph, where he introduces couples in real life who have fallen for each other online but have yet to meet.

Catfish typically create fake online profiles designed to lure you in. They may use a fictional name, or falsely take on the identities of real, trusted people.

Catfishers use the accounts to give off a persona they wish they had – with plenty of friends, photos and attractive qualities.

Some people become Catfish because they are insecure and want to be loved, other people use it to take advantage of people looking for romantic partners to get money or gifts.

As our lives become ever-more social media dependent – the mysterious side of online relationships grows. It is most common on social media and dating apps such as Tinder.

Paddy Galloway, a DCU student matched with a girl from Fermanagh called “Saoirse” on Tinder who later followed his other social media accounts. He later discovered that she wasn’t who she claimed to be and tweeted pictures of her to warn other people.

“So this Irish Twitter girl, "Saoirse" has been messaging me for over a month. Turns out she (he?) is using a YouTuber's pictures and is a certified catfish. If anyone comes into contact with this account, block and report.”

He told me that his Tweet made him look naive but he knew that the person he was texting was a very clever Catfish. He was texting her for about 3 months but then he found out that the girl he was texting was using a Youtubers photographs.

The Youtuber has over 50,000 subscribers and the Catfish even pretended that she went abroad and used this Youtubers holiday photos.

When I spoke with him he described the whole situation as “weird” because there was originally “no red flags” because she had a lot of Twitter followers and was apart of the an Irish community online.

Paddy assumes that this girl is “probably insecure and doesn’t get any attention in real life.” Once Catfish have gained your trust and your defences are down, they may ask you for money, gifts or your banking details.

They may also ask you to send pictures or videos of yourself, possibly of an intimate nature.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Urszula Makowska (@urszulala) on

I also spoke with Urszula Makowska who was on season 5 of MTV’s Catfish.

When I asked Urszula does she have sympathy for her Catfish she said: “I feel sorry for us. Unfortunately, I was not the only person he catfished. He catfished over 400 girls. He received intimate photos and videos from hundreds of girls, had intimate phone conversations with women for his own pleasure, and called us a social experiment.'

'I honestly sorry for us. We were used and sexually violated.”

Her Catfish received intimate photos and videos from over 400 women and had intimate phone conversations with them. He kept folders on his Google Drive of the intimate photographs of the girls and he included what level of relationship he was on with the girls.

A lot of us turn to dating online these days and Urszula did the same. “ I matched with my catfisher on Tinder and he started to initiate a conversation on Tinder. At first I ignored him, but going through a tough time in my life, I was vulnerable and needed someone there for me.”

As their conversations got deeper, they exchanged many texts and phone calls for four months. She tried to visit him so he told her over the phone that he was a Catfish. She immediately took a screenshot of some of the girls that were following his catfishing account right before he blocked her.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Urszula Makowska (@urszulala) on

“This life changing experience had a big impact on me. I really did develop feelings and the effects of this was that I was extremely hurt by him. Aside to that, personally, for over a year I had trust issues. I was sceptical of online dating and dating in general. I was extremely scared to open up to any male.”

Now, if Urszula meets someone online,she does her research on the person because “at the end of the day you really don't know who you are talking to on the other end.”

If you think you're being Catfished ask yourself these questions:

  • Why does they refuse to video chat?
  • Why are they never able to meet in person?
  • Why does it seem just too good to be true?

And keep an eye out for these signs:

  • Bad grammar and spelling in messages
  • The person asks for money
  • The conversation becomes romantic too quickly
  • The person claims to have an illness or is struggling in some other way
  • They won’t speak on the phone or webcam chat
  • The person has very few or no friends on Facebook
  • They claim they do not have a permanent address

Victims of Catfish could end up losing a lot of money, which may be impossible to recover and they may feel long-lasting emotional betrayal at the hands of someone you thought loved you.

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We hear a lot about people who have been the victims of the trickery of online catfish, lured into online relationships under false pretences.

But what about the people who have their identities stolen by these online phonies?

The people who have their images, and sometimes the details of their entire lives, stolen and re-purposed for use by a potential predator are at risk.

People who have their images stolen online are put in an awkward and also very dangerous situation.

Accounts using their faces could have been used for anything without their knowledge, from tweeting embarrassing or even defamatory things, to luring people into online relationships. 

This happened to one victim, who wishes to remain anonymous.

The model went viral earlier this year, after the catfish who had virtually stalked her for years photoshopped her face onto the body of popular Instagram model Jessica Hunt. 

She began receiving torrents of abuse and ridicule as people assumed she was the one behind the catfish stunt.

The attractive Irish model noticed that her pictures were being stolen for use on dating sites under the false name Amy Roberts years ago, but the problem quickly spread across all social media platforms. 

"The first I was aware of this user was a few of my followers on twitter and Instagram around two years ago sending me pics of various fake profiles on Tinder and Plenty Of Fish using my pics and the name Amy," she told SHEmazing!. 

"At first I didn't think much of it as they weren't the first to do it and they usually move on and use someone else's images after a while."

However, she later realised that this optimism was sadly misplaced. 

A number of months later, she discovered that multiple Snapchat accounts were stealing her stories and re-uploading them to catfish accounts, which she quickly managed to have deleted.

Then came Twitter, where she discovered an account using her images, which was soon shut down by Twitter moderators as well.

However, Instagram was where the real issues began. 

"I was made aware by so many followers of so many Instagram accounts of this Amy person, all of which when I was notified of I got Instagram to take down."

"The user has gotten smarter over the years, blocking me from their fake accounts and keeping their profile private."

"I now put my social media handles on my images to try to prevent them from taking my images but they just remove them from the images and in doing so blur half the image out or blur the whole of my ear which makes the image look odd but it still doesn't stop naive people believing that it is them."

She has even had someone recognise her in real life, thinking that she is the elusive Amy. 

"I've had DMs from minor celebs trying to talk to me like they know me because this catfish Amy sent them a DM with my image in it and had chats with them pretending to be me."

"I have even had one talk to me in a club like they knew me and called me Amy because they had been fooled by the catfish, they were pretty sheepish once I explained they were duped."

While these ordeals are creepy enough, the worst moment came when the catfish tried to flirt with a famous Youtuber, who posted the messages from the catfish but naming the real woman as the culprit, leading to her being mocked and shamed online. 

"I asked the user to remove it or tell me the account it came from but unfortunately my humiliation was their gain. That image still goes around the internet today with me getting abuse for it while the catfish gets away with their actions," she said. 

This incident was soon followed by the viral snap of her face photoshopped onto online personality Jessica Hunt's body. 

"Each morning when I check social media now it makes me feel sick to find out whether or not I'll be the victim of yet another viral post. I refuse to quit social media because not only do they win but people will never be able to find the original source of the images."

Not only has Amy made a mockery of the girl she pretends to be online, but other people are impacted by the situation, as the Amy persona lures people into false relationships.

"One girl told me how she met 'Amy' on an online lesbian chat room and had fallen for her and was going to move across the world for her only for her to find my account and feel betrayed."

"I've also heard from people who have given this Amy person money only to find out that they are fake. I hate to think that someone could use my image and identity to treat others so horribly and also to think that if they saw me on the street that they would assume that I did this to them and took their money."

"I have no idea to this day who they are, why they are stalking me or what their motives are with their actions on social media," she said. 

"They clearly know I get a lot of abuse for what they do so I personally think it's gone from catfishing to them enjoying setting me up for trouble then deleting their account and watching it all fall onto me. The worst part is that I can't control their actions or what they say online all while pretending to be me."

"I hope one day this Amy person gets bored and moves onto someone else but I feel that this hell they put me through will never end, " she finished. 

While this story may be extreme, it is not an isolated incident. 

For every online catfish out there using someone's photos and identity, there is a victim who is being put at risk through the actions of the catfish. 

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Catfish star Nev Schulman is a total heartthrob, and we can't get over what an adorable husband he is.

In a recent Instagram post, the dad penned a heartfelt, belated birthday message to his wife Laura Perlongo.

Nev shared a fantastic photo of Laura in which he is presenting her a huge birthday cake full of lit candles.

A huge smile is spread across her face as she looks into her thoughtful husband’s eyes.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Nev Schulman (@nevschulman) on

Nev labelled the cake as “an offering to the goddess of light and laughter”.

“My sun and moon, my sweetness and my spice. I love every moment we spend together,” he gushed.

“Yesterday may have been your birthday, but you deserve to be celebrated every day. Thank you for taking this wild ride with me and making our lives whole.”

The darling dad truly treasures his wife and appreciates everything she has accomplished in life.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Laura Perlongo (@el_peego) on

The lovebirds recently announced that they are expecting their second child with a cleverly classic photo of a bun in an oven.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Nev Schulman (@nevschulman) on

Their baby boy is to arrive in January and will be the perfect addition to their growing family. Nev and Laura’s daughter Cleo can’t wait to be a big sister.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Nev Schulman (@nevschulman) on

As magical as her husband made her birthday, It looks like the expectant mum will have an even better Christmas. The family will be getting the most precious present this holiday season.

The Catfish host continues to support and cherish his loving wife with each opportunity he gets, and it is amazing to see them so happy together.

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Huge congratulations are in order for Catfish’s Nev Schulman and his wife Laura Perlongo who are expecting baby number two.

The couple shared the joyous news yesterday evening by posting individual snaps on their Instagram accounts.

 

A post shared by Nev Schulman (@nevschulman) on

They enlisted the help of their 21-month-old daughter Cleo James to share the news. It’s safe to say she’ll be the best big sister.

Nev revealed the news by sharing a witty snap of his family looking at a bun in the oven.

He wrote: “WE GOT A BUN IN THE OVEN! see you in January lil’ guy,” alongside the photo.

 

A post shared by Nev Schulman (@nevschulman) on

The dad also revealed that Laura is expecting a baby boy. How exciting!

Fans quickly congratulated the presenter: “Congratulations. I am so happy for you. Wonderful news.”

“Omg! That's great! I'm due in January too!” another shared.

 

A post shared by Laura Perlongo (@el_peego) on

“Aww congratulations guys. Such a beautiful family! Wish you all the best,” one gushed.

Laura also posted her own photo to confirm the pregnancy news. The soon-to-be mum-of-two shared a snap of her and Nev looking nervously at Cleo as she cried.

“Cleo is getting a baby brother! It’s gonna be great!” the writer joked.

 

A post shared by Laura Perlongo (@el_peego) on

Nev and Laura welcomed their first child- a daughter called Cleo- in October 2016.

The Catfish host gushed about their new arrival: “Best. Thing. Ever. Cleo James arrived at 6.01am weighing 6lbs 10oz. Shout-out to my baby mama for delivering this bundle of joy.”

We are delighted for the family. 2019 is going to be quite the special year for them.

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Catfish has been entertaining the masses on MTV for seven years, and introduced the concept of online deception to cultural awareness. 

Hosts Nev Schulman and Max Joseph have united lovers and haters as a dream team since the show started, but it's now time for Max to move on.

In an online statement, the We Are Your Friends film maker said that it is his time to leave the show, citing work commitments. 

'Hey guys, the time has come, sadly, for me to move on from Catfish. Working on this show for the last seven years has been one of the most meaningful experiences of my life,' Max wrote in a statement. 

'I’ve learned a lot about myself, my country and human nature in general. Nev and I have become brothers and our bromance has blossomed before your eyes.' 

'For a while now I have been straddling two careers as TV host and filmmaker and, while this level of busy-ness is a dream come true, my life can no longer sustain it.'

 

A post shared by Max Joseph (@maxjoseph) on

'With Catfish still going strong after 7 seasons, 115 episodes, 31 specials and showing no sign of slowing down, I feel it is finally the time for me to make my exit.'

'Although I have a heavy heart, I am also excited for everything that’s to come for myself, for Nev, for our crew and for the show. Thank you for watching, thank you for the love and for the memes.'

There's no word yet on who will replace Max – maybe whoever revealed Bloggers Unveiled would be up for the job? 

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Nev Schulman, the main man of MTV's hit programme Catfish: The TV show, is trying to move on after he was wrongly accused of sexual misconduct.

Pending investigations halted production of the TV show in June, after a woman who previously starred in the show accused the host of making inappropriate and sexual comments to her whilst filming. 

MTV has now said those claims were not "credible and are without merit". 

 

A post shared by Nev Schulman (@nevschulman) on

Nev spoke to PEOPLE about how he's trying to get on with life after the ordeal. 

“I’m doing much better now…It was a really difficult time for me, as much for my wife and my family. It was tough.”

The presenter continued to explain how he strives to live an honest, good life which means taking responsibility for his actions. 

 

A post shared by Nev Schulman (@nevschulman) on

“I’ve lived a number of different lives in my 33 years. I’ve experienced different things, I’ve been in different social circles and I’ve made mistakes. I’ve been very honest about those and I’ve been accountable, I’ve apologised and done everything I could to make right where I may have wronged.

I’ve been judged for those mistakes — publicly and privately. That’s tough and doesn’t feel good but it’s important and something I’ve made part of my life,” he explained. 

 

A post shared by Nev Schulman (@nevschulman) on

During the time the allegations were being looked into, the 33-year-old detailed just how difficult it was, but he always had endless support to help him through.

“To be accused of something that I squarely did not do and to have the harsh judgment that followed and no way to counteract or do something in the moment to correct that was very difficult,” he replies.

“It was frustrating. I just felt so powerless.” 

“Luckily I had the amazing support of the fans of the show but also of my colleagues, the crew…Several people who had been on the show actually reached out to me and offered to speak up in my support if necessary. I’m just so thankful and grateful to everyone.”

 

A post shared by Nev Schulman (@nevschulman) on

In May, Nev denied the allegations of sexual misconduct by a woman he has chosen not to name, but who did appear on the show. 

In a statement to PEOPLE, the host said:

“The behaviour described in this video did not happen and I’m fortunate that there are a number of former colleagues who were present during this time period who are willing to speak up with the truth."

“I have always been transparent about my life and would always take responsibility for my actions — but these claims are false.”

 

A post shared by Nev Schulman (@nevschulman) on

Catfish will be returning to our TV screens tonight for a 7th series. 

We for one will definitely be tuning in – the withdrawal has been real. 

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Congratulations are in order for Nev Schulman and Laura Perlongo – they're officially married.

The Catfish star tied the knot over the weekend in a romantic ceremony in East Hampton, New York.

 

Just married #schuperinlove

A post shared by Priscila Joseph (@prijoseph) on

 

A post shared by Anthony Ongaro (@anthonyongaro) on

 

Best moment from @nevschulman's incredible wedding goes to…CLEO!!  #schuperinlove

A post shared by Max Joseph (@maxjoseph) on

The wedding took place in Nev's father's home, and we have to say it looked absolutely gorgeous.

They were joined on the day by their nine-month-old daughter Cleo, and she looked just as beautiful as her mam.

 

A post shared by Priscila Joseph (@prijoseph) on

 

Such a perfect day #schuperinlove (@wkjoseph)

A post shared by Priscila Joseph (@prijoseph) on

The bride donned a two-piece gown, comprising of an embellished crop top and long skirt, while Cleo wore an adorable white lace dress.

The marriage was officiated by YouTube star Casey Neistat, and after the ceremony Nev's Catfish co-star Max Joseph made a speech.

 

A post shared by joseph carrillo (@josephcarrillo) on

 

These two: @el_peego @nevschulman #schuperinlove xoxo. #catfish

A post shared by joseph carrillo (@josephcarrillo) on

After the ceremony, the couple changed into more comfortable attire, with Laura wearing a white two-piece swimsuit with a white lace kimono.

Looking at the pictures, it seems like everyone had a wonderful day.

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Catfishing is a modern dating phenomenon, in which people pretend to be someone they are not in order to lure others into online relationships.

Catfishing comes in many forms, from people stealing other peoples identities to fabricate an online life, to attached people lying about everything in their lives, including their marital status, to secure online attention and even coax people into sexual liaisons in real life.

The latter is what happened to Anna Rowe, who has started a petition to make catfishing online illegal.

Anna was lured into a 14-month, whirlwind correspondence with a man named Antony Ray, whom she met on Tinder.

The two chatted online and via text and phone calls, before meeting. The two discussed getting married and Antony even referred to her as "Mrs Ray," she told the Daily Mail.

One day, Antony disappeared, prompting Anna to hire a private investigator to find out what had happened to him, only to discover that he was married, and not at all who he had said he was. 

"In my experience after 14 months, I discovered not only was his 'Antony Ray' identity fake but he was married and had a dedicated phone for his conquests under his fake life," she said, in the description of her Change.org petition.

"During our entire relationship he was seeing other women, claiming to be away working in Europe. He spent his weekends with his wife and children, not his parents where he claimed his mum had been diagnosed with cancer."

"He used me like a hotel with benefits under the disguise of a romantic, loving relationship that he knew I craved," she said.

"He took advantage of my trust and took away my right to choose."

"I did not or would not consent to have a sexual relationship with a married man, let alone a man who was actively having relations with multiple women simultaneously."

"His behaviour was definitely premeditated showing his intent to use women, yet the current law will not find his actions a criminal offence."

She approached the authorities, but found that there was nothing that could be done, and so started her petition.

The petition has a clear message: "Creating a fake online profile with the intent to use women or men for sex, should be a crime under the fraud act, communications act and sexual offences act.”

After all the crazy catfish stories that have been going on lately, perhaps it is time for some official guidelines to be put in place.

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We've all seen the MTV show Catfish, but just in case you haven't, catfishing refers to the act of posing as another person online in order to lure people into an online relationship under false pretences.

Some catfish edit photos of themselves to appear more attractive, but most people simply steal other's images and pass them off as their own. 

One catfish went the extra mile in the case of Jessica Hunt.

Instagram personality Jessica Hunt tweeted an image of her which had been stolen by a catfish, which for someone with almost 100,000 followers probably isn't a very uncommon experience.

However this catfish had gone to extremes, and had photoshopped what seemed to be their own face onto Jessica's body. 

"OH MY GOD that is my body and my house but who's face is that!?!? catfish game is getting silly," she said, in the tweet which has since gone viral.

 

A photo posted by Jessica Hunt (@jesshunt2) on

The hunt was then on to put a name to the photoshopped face. 

This is where one Irish online personality who wishes to remain anonymous  was dragged into the mix, after savvy online detectives identified the photoshopped face as hers. 

The model began receiving torrents of abuse and ridicule as people assumed she was the one behind the catfish stunt.

However, the model denies that she has anything to do with the image, and claims that it is in fact a catfish of hers who is behind it.

She believes that a catfish who has been relentlessly stalking her online for two years is behind the fake picture.

The catfish has previously created multiple accounts posing as the attractive model. 

Jessica and the anonymous model have been in touch with each other over the ordeal, and are both shocked by the actions of the catfish, known only as Amy.

The catfish has since shown up on Tinder in the Essex area using the photoshopped image. 

Someone call Nev and Max, ASAP!

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Catfishing is an online modern dating phenomenon where people pretend to be someone their not to lure others into an online relationship, and the the term was popularised by MTV's hit show, Catfish.

This week, Twitter is getting up in arms over fake online profiles, and is dolling out the advice to the unsuspecting relationship seekers who are trawling the Internet for a potential partner.

With Valentine's Day just around the corner, be wary of catfish while you swipe away looking for a bae. 

10. We've all met a prince in our inbox who needs our help to get that €10,000,000 inheritance.

9. Amateur catfish mistake.

8. It's the 21st century people, we have cameras on things we don't need or want cameras on.

7. Again, 21st centuary…

6. More excuses than we have not to go to the gym on a Saturday morning.

5. Soooo many excuses.

4. Either they still live at home or they're secretly 14.

3.  How often do webcams really break?

2. So many snaps of their bedroom walls.

1. And the glaringly obvious…

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Nev Schulman is certainly smitten over his little baby girl.

It has been less than a week since Nev welcomed his daughter into the world with his fiancée Laura Perlongo.

 

A photo posted by Nev Schulman (@nevschulman) on

And the first-time-dad is already taking to social media to show off his gorgeous tot.

Nev took to Instagram to share a picture of Cleo's hand wrapped around his finger, and captioned it with a bunch of heart-face emojis.

 

A photo posted by Nev Schulman (@nevschulman) on

How cute is Cleo James sleeping?! What a gorgeous picture.

We can't wait to see more adorable pics.

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When Catfish first came onto MTV, we were shocked by what some people can do behind their computer screens.

However, it was a good learning tool, and thought us to be more careful about talking to strangers online.

Yet, this man mustn't have got the message because for the past six years, he thought he was dating Katy Perry.

Yes, the world-famous Katy Perry.

Spencer Morrill was convinced he was in a relationship with the star, despite only speaking to her over the phone once.

He appeared on the show this week and told Nev and Max: "It was an immediate connection. A million 'I love yous' back and forth. It was pretty cool.

"I would like to meet face to face and see if there's a future here."

Spencer and the false Katy had been texting and emailing for years and he even made her an engagement ring which he said cost him "25 percent of his savings."

Oh, and that one phone call? That set him back nearly 300 quid.

As the show goes, Nev and Max did some digging and found out that Spencer was actually talking to a woman called Harriet from the UK.

Nev broke the news: "We've found the person you've been talking to beyond really any shred of doubt, and you still want to believe the thing that makes you happier. You need to know that you're not talking to Katy Perry."

When Harriet and Spencer came face to face she eventually apologised for her actions.

"I'm like genuinely sorry. I can't change what I did, but I understand that it was really wrong," she said.

Drama, drama, drama!

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