Catfishing is not a new practice on the internet. Lying about oneself can happen on dating sites, social networks and most definitely in Second Life where anyone can create a false persona and wander around the grid lying to others for their own personal gratification. I’ve been around for many years and have heard some of the craziest stories imaginable. Detecting frauds can be difficult but by paying attention to detail you have a better chance of saving yourself from heartbreak and grief due to a Catfisher.
I wandered the grid and asked residents if they have ever been lied to or tricked by an SL love interest and wasn’t surprised by the results. Their names have been changed for privacy.
Lanai: Have you ever been Catfished?
Nelly: Yes! I have been catfished more than once in the 3 years I’ve been in secondlife. The first time was in my first year when I met someone at a club. I wasn’t looking for a relationship but he seemed very nice and we started talking. He told me he was 23, single and worked for a software company in Florida. We talked for about 6 months. He would send me pictures but never wanted to voice or go on skype with me. Little things he would say didn’t seem to match up. One day he slipped and said he was going to his nephew’s graduation out of town and wouldn’t be around. That seemed legit until he came back a couple of weeks later and told me he had a confession and that he felt really bad for leading me on. It turned out that he was 48, married and his rl wife had come in the room and caught him dancing with me and demanded that he break things off with me or she was going to leave him. She was standing over his shoulder when he confessed all this to me. I was so heartbroken and felt embarrassed that I shared so much about my life with him. After that I never spoke to him again.
Lanai: Wow Nelly I’m sorry to hear that. You couldn’t tell by the pictures he sent you that something was odd?
Nelly: Oh! Here is the best part because I did ask him about the pictures. It turned out to be his son! He was basically acting as his son who is 23.
Lanai: That’s crazy! Do you have any advice for our readers about watching for the signs of a catfisher?
Nelly: If I could go back I would have asked him to skype with me and question him more since he said he was single and living alone. Looking back his excuses were a bit strange.
Lanai: That makes sense. Thank you for sharing your story.
The next person I spoke to had a mind blowing story that made me wonder about the mental state of some of these bold catfishers in Second Life.
Lanai: Thank you for taking the time to tell me your story. Can you tell our readers about your catfishing experience?
Anonymous: Hi Lanai, yes. I was dating a girl I had met here in Second Life for a year and things got pretty serious. She told me she was 24 and living with her sister in New Jersey. I live in Texas and we agreed to have a long distance relationship. She was telling me she loved me and wanted to be with me. I felt the same way about her. We never spoke on cam because she said she was shy and only sent me her picture a few times. She was a pretty girl with blue eyes and blonde hair. The hard part about our relationship was that we lived half way across the country from each other but we spoke on the phone a lot. I really did care about her and was willing to meet up. After talking about it for a while she told me she would come see me. I took a week vacation from work and helped her make flight arrangements. I went to pick her up at the airport and I was floored when I saw her. She was nothing like the pictures and she was much older and heavier. She tried to apologize and explain why she lied but I was so hurt that I left her there and she had to take a flight back home the same day. I immediately blocked her number and in second life. The weeks following that she came onto second life on alts to try to get me back but what she had done I couldn’t forgive. She is probably doing it to someone else because she was a really good liar.
Lanai: Now that is crazy! What was she thinking lying like that and then actually taking a flight to see you?
Anonymous: I couldn’t understand that either but I am never taking that chance again. Before I even think about meeting anyone else in second life, I want to at least skype with them so I know exactly who I am with.
Lanai: it is safe to say that is a good idea!
This Catfishing story is one of the worst because not only did the victim get lied to but the person who did it was the same sex!
Steven: This is embarrassing but I’ll share my story because I know this happens a lot and people should know. I was catfished by a guy posing as a girl. I met this person while I was at a charity event. I wasn’t looking for a girlfriend at the time because I just went through an ugly breakup and just needed someone to talk to about it. At first it was strictly platonic and we became friends. We would go exploring and do fun things together like horseback riding, boating and club hopping. It all started when “she” asked me to dance. Those intan balls have a funny way of making a mood change and the next thing I know we were kissing and cuddling. Things were moving faster then I was ready for but I needed something to cure my loneliness and I let my guard down. We ended up having sex. After that she wanted to take me to some sex clubs and I went with her. She wanted to try new things and I was game but a little taken aback by some of the things she wanted to do like use a strap on with me. I am a straight man so I told her no and she got upset and we started arguing about it. Finally she confessed to me that she was really a man and she laughed about it. I never felt so disgusted in my life. It definitely changed my view of dating in Second Life and now I don’t trust any girl who approaches me first.
Lanai: I’m sorry to hear that Steven! Didn’t you ever try to talk in voice or anything?
Steven: No, but I probably should have and will do voice verification from now on.
I sent a note in the SL Enquirer Media group looking for people willing to share their catfish story and here is one of the responses:
Anonymous: the answer is yes. I was married in sl for almost 2 years thinking the person I was falling for was actually the daughter of the one I was involved with. Coming to find out the picture that I thought were the person I was dating was actually her 24 year old daughter.
Lanai: how did you find it all out? Did she confess?
Anonymous: her daughter told me, so we got SL divorced and during the 2 years of being with her we had a son who was a zoobie. We are still friends cause we share our son yet there will never be anything more than friendship now
Lanai: that is terrible. I’m sorry that happened to you. Do you have any advice for people on what signs to look for?
Anonymous: learning experience. when I was a week old I dated this girl I had just bought a sim and built a club and a house on the land. Well, this girl was like, we are together so I should be co owner of land with her. I was very naive in SL. I logged out she banned me from my own land and stole my sim. My first hard lesson of sl love.
This story really pulled at my heartstring because not only do catfishers cause emotional damage to their victims but they do it without any empathy. Much like how a serial killer preys on the weak. Serial Catfishers kill the spirits of their victims.
It is not a joke to lie for sport or selfish reasons because it can cause irreversible emotional damage to someone who didn’t deserve it. (her name has been changed to protect her privacy)
Mary: I was catfished when I needed someone the most and it added to my depression and almost made me commit suicide. I had to go to a therapist because of what he did to me and I am still in recovery. I’m in a wheelchair because of multiple sclerosis. I am often in pain and on medication. I rarely go out so secondlife is where I can socialize and feel normal without being judged. I have lots of friends who support me here. I met someone at a concert and we danced and talked. We spent a lot of time together and he accepted my disability. He always asked how my day was and kept me company. I really fell in love with him and he told me he loved me too. He asked me to marry him in secondlife and I said yes. I was so happy to have someone in my life. It took away the loneliness and made my days easier. Then things started to change, and I saw less of him. He told me he was working a lot but promised we would spend time when he had a chance. One day out of the blue he tells me we can’t be together anymore. I was devastated. It was like he did a total 180. I felt like I deserved an explanation since for months he was telling me how much he loved me and would always be there for me. Finally he confessed that it was because he felt sorry for me and he wasn’t attracted to me. He also said he found another girlfriend. Later I found out he had another girlfriend all along on an ALT and many of the things he told me about him were a lie. It deeply hurt me and I felt like my life was over. I still feel like I’ll never get a chance to find someone because of how heartless he was to me.
Finding people willing to talk about their experiences wasn’t that hard because sadly it is common in Second Life. Wanting to be anonymous was also common and understandable too. No one wants to be tricked into an emotional situation and make it public. I appreciate those who participated in this poll for their willingness to share their story and hopefully help someone else from being a victim of a catfisher.
If you have a Catfish story or advice to share, use the comment box below