Yesterday, I wrote an article describing how – for the past eight years – someone has been stealing Facebook photos from myself and my closest friends, and then using them to create and update numerous fake social media profiles.
This situation, while definitely creepy, invasive and undesirable, was just about bearable. But then we learned she'd been using our faces to talk to guys we'd never met on the internet, and it all became a little more worrying. Especially when we'd bump into these guys in public – on the strip in Malia, in my university halls and on various nights out around London, for example – and have to explain that the person they'd been talking to every night for months wasn't really who they thought it was – i.e. me or one of my friends.
After the piece went up, a guy got in touch with me. He told me he'd been on the receiving end of one of the fake accounts, and that for the past two years he'd been tricked into believing he'd built up an intense, if remote, relationship with one of my closest friends – a relationship that, in his mind, involved her chasing him to another country before flying home and nearly killing herself with a drug overdose.
Due to the sensitive nature of some of his answers, the guy wanted to remain anonymous. The following conversation is probably as weird to read as it was to have over the phone, earlier today.
VICE: When did you first start speaking to the fake account?
Catfish victim: In September of 2012. I was going through Facebook and I saw a girl who I thought I recognised from a night out the weekend before. It started with a simple message, asking if she was at a certain club that weekend, and she replied saying, "Yeah, I think I remember speaking to you." I never questioned it, I just thought, 'Why would anyone lie about that?' So we started talking, and we got on really well.
Did you continue speaking after that?
Yes, a few weeks later she said she was having a birthday party at her uni house and said I was invited and that I could bring a few friends. She messaged me on the morning of the party, saying she was driving up from London and that she would message me when it was OK to come up. It got to 10 o'clock and I'd received no reply to my messages, but I didn't know her very well so I didn't think much of it. She rang me a couple of hours later saying she'd had a nightmare and was home now and that we were still allowed to come if we wanted – but I said I'd already made plans by that point. After that, we spoke every night on the phone for hours and would WhatsApp or speak on Facebook chat throughout the day.
What kept you speaking for that long?
I had a problem with drug addiction. I was addicted to ketamine, and after speaking to this girl for a few months and really feeling comfortable and like I could trust her, we started talking about it. She told me her older brother had died from a ket overdose. Our connection then got really strong, because she was always there for me, helping me, and it all seemed so real. She was always there for me, and I would spend hours on the phone to her every night talking about it. We went through stages of me getting on the drugs, falling out about it and not talking for months sometimes, but we would always start talking again in the end.
Did you ever try to meet her after the failed party incident?
We hadn't been speaking for a while, and then she told me she was doing an internship in New York, so I didn't think anything of not meeting her. We'd speak every night for a few hours, but she had a different phone number to the one she used for WhatsApp, and that one didn't work when I tried to call. She said it was her "work phone" that I could call and text, but that I had to limit it because she would get into trouble if they caught her using it as a personal phone.
Did you consider that she might be fake?
I started to recently. I accused her of it once and she really didn't like it – she didn't speak to me for a while after that. She always seemed to have a way of blagging it and turning it back round on me, and then I'd feel guilty for accusing her. I kind of ignored the signs, and the excuses she gave seemed reasonable. Plus, this girl had been there for me at my darkest time. We got on really well and were never stuck for something to talk about over the hours and hours we spent on the phone. She made me feel good. Why would I want to ruin all that?
When was the last time you spoke?
I went away last summer, and we fell out because she begged me not to go, but I knew it was what I wanted to do. I'd been offered a good job and I wasn't going to let this girl walk back into my life and stop me from going and doing what I wanted to do, so we didn't speak for a while. I agreed not to sleep with anyone else and said I'd be back in September, and we talked about going to London or New York together. Then she called and gave me an ultimatum – that I come home or never speak to her again. I stuck to my guns and refused to come home. We argued a lot about it, so I started to ignore her and we didn't speak for ages.
Oh, so you've spoken to her since then?
She called me when I was away, describing exactly what I was doing and wearing to the point that I knew she had to be there. She said she was in the hotel opposite, but said before she met me she had to know if I'd slept with anyone else. I told her the truth – I had, but it was nothing serious. But she took it really badly – she was crying down the phone and said she didn't want to meet until she had her head sorted. She said she flew home that night.
What happened after that?
I tried to cut her out of my life. I knew if I kept speaking to her she'd have me wrapped around her little finger again. She called me in October saying she was majorly depressed and that she'd turned to heroin. She knew I had a history of heroin addiction in my family, so I took it really badly. She said she was going to overdose, but I thought she was lying so I called her bluff and told her to do it. I didn't hear from her for a while after so I started to panic.
I messaged the last girl who had posted on her timeline, who I now know to be another fake profile, and she told me that her roommate had found her overdosed in her room. I felt awful; all her "friends" started sending me hate mail, blaming me for it. A couple of weeks later, she started speaking to me again, and yesterday said she didn't want to get close to me again if I was going to follow through with my plans to travel this summer. She said she was deleting her Facebook, and then I saw your article.
Have you contacted her since?
I messaged her, but she hasn't replied – she's also un-followed me on Twitter and Instagram, so I can't find her any more. I would like to speak to her now. I have a lot of questions for her.
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