One of my guilty pleasures, is to veg out and watch MTV’s Catfish. I think in a previous life I was a private investigator, because all of the detective work behind every episode has my complete and utmost attention. The show also is extremely interesting to me because I try to understand the “why” - it makes me wonder why people do it.
Well never ever did I think it would ever happen to me. Let me preface and say, that I have not dated as much in my 31 years as I did last year. This is just one of the crazy stories that I now can proudly tell. Here is my story… (**names have been changed).
I remember being in New York for work last year, and one of my dating apps went off. I’m not a huge fan of online dating, but I figured why not? This guy messaged me and simply said, “I’m moving to Seattle soon, and was wondering if you have any recommendations on where to live?” There was no innuendo on how “hot” I was or how he wanted to have “drinks that night”, so I politely obliged with a friendly well thought out response.
I got back to Seattle, and we messaged a little bit more every day. He was from Boston, lived in North Carolina, and was moving to Seattle in a few weeks. Harmless right?? Since I've moved a lot for work, this totally was feasible. He said his name was Oliver, and we really really got to know each other. Somehow responding was effortless and that equated to pages and pages of mutual responses. He told me how much he loved working out, how he loved traveling, and for some weird reason I felt like our souls were similar. HA.
I remember one night, I saw his age change on the site. (I've always been a little OCD with details.) It went from 26, to 27 (please hold the cougar jokes). I asked Oliver if it was his birthday, and he said “oh yea!” I asked him what he was doing to celebrate, and he told me he was traveling for work, so he was having wine in his hotel room. (*First red flag…what 27 year old male is going to celebrate with wine!?) Hmm ok. Interesting, but ok. We messaged all the time, and soon the two week mark hit. I wondered why he hadn’t asked me for my number. I’m never eager to give it out, but was anxious to finally talk to Oliver over the phone.
I’m not an aggressive girl, but one late night, as I was typing out a good night message, I decided to include my phone number at the end. Right after I sent my number, I decided that I had literally done nothing to stalk this guy and make sure that I was talking to the “Oliver” that I knew. I decided to take a cue from “Catfish”, and did a reverse google search of his images. The first image: nothing. Hmm, ok. The second image: led me to a Linked In profile of “Tyler Cordova”. I. SAT. AT. MY. COMPUTER. SCREEN. AND. MY. JAW. DROPPED. I’m not the girl that ever gets scared of silly things like being kidnapped, but this scared me. “Oliver” talked about “kidnapping me” when he came to Seattle. I didn’t know what to do, but I knew I wanted JUSTICE.
I called one of my friends, Lisa, and it surprised me that many people today still don’t know what a Catfish is. I was determined to catch “Oliver” or whoever they were, red handed. WHOEVER IT WAS, MESSED WITH THE WRONG GIRL. Lisa and I were determined to figure out this puzzle. Who was I talking to? Did I know them? Why would anyone do this? I decided not to overreact, so I messaged Oliver the next day, and told him that I was in a computer lab at work all day. I included my email address at the end of the message. I figured that if he emailed me, I could figure out his IP address, and then I could figure out at least where he was emailing from (I did this when I was almost scammed by a Nigerian man when I was apartment hunting in London). That attempt was not fruitful, and he just sent me a message through the dating app. DAMN IT.
I couldn't hold back anymore. I messaged him and told him that there was a possibility he wasn’t who he said he was, and his response was “Can’t you just let yourself be happy??”. I finally told him, “Is the reason why you are not texting me or emailing me, is because you are Tyler Cordova?” The next thing I knew, his account was disabled.
My next instinct was to message Tyler Cordova, and let him know that his identity was being used. I also found him on Facebook and I decided to send him a message. Somehow Lisa and I found out that he worked at a gym in Boston, so she called his work number hoping to get ahold of him. No answer. No answer from either outlets. That same night Lisa called me at home. Now, Lisa never calls me. We don’t talk on the phone…it’s not how our friendship rolls. I answered, and she had some shocking news. Her sister worked with Tyler when she was in college, AND she now had access to his phone number. WHAT ARE THE ODDS?! Within a few hours I had Tyler Cordova’s cell phone number. That night I sent him a text. I just wanted to tell him who I was, and what someone was doing with his identity.
The next morning: NOTHING. If you received a text/Facebook message stating that someone stole your identity and is using it to online date, don’t you think you would respond?! I sure as hell would!!! But alas, I didn’t get a response. By noon, Lisa and I were at a loss for words. I decided to text Tyler one last time. Here was what I said, “I guess the reason you’re not texting me is because it really is you.” I then started to receive the most obscene text messages.
I still don’t know 100% who “Harry” is, but I firmly believe that Tyler and Harry are the same person.
Here is why I think that Tyler was actually “Harry”:
1. When his birthday changed on the dating app, the actual day was not listed on the app. I just noticed the age change. That date matched the exact birthday of Tyler Cordova’s Linked In (that I found at the very very bottom of the page). If someone is going to steal someone’s identity, they are not going to steal an exact birthday that is not visible on a dating site.
2. Tyler and Harry’s interests and passions aligned with each other. It seemed too seamless. It also allowed him to message me at all hours of the day.
3. Tyler was too defensive in the texts when I was trying to let him know that someone was compromising his identity. There was no thank you, no questions about the situation, but there sure was a lot of cursing.
I honestly think that Tyler chose the furthest place away from where he lived, was bored, and decided to have little fun. Little did he know that he would come across someone that would be so detail oriented, and detective minded, that he would get caught. I was cheated on once in my life, and never again. I just wish I could have seen Tyler’s face when I found his number and sent him that text message. :)
Here are a few links that are helpful, if you are trying to figure out if you are being catfished:
I hope you enjoyed this story, and hopefully will take some cue's from it as you enter the lovely world of online dating. Cheers. :)
Bellisima = "Extremely Beautiful" in Italian, and how i would describe the world, and how I view it through travel.