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How Not To Get ‘Catfished’ – Lessons From The Manti Te’o Story

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Notre Dame football player Manti Te’o has been all over the news over the last few days because of something that happened to him that’s happened to many. Te’o was in a relationship with a woman named Lenay Kekua, who was in a horrific car accident and later died from leukemia. Or so he, and everyone else thought. As it turns out, Kekua was not a real person. The photos Te’o had received from her were of someone else, and “she” may not have even been a she at all. This is a phenomenon known as “catfishing”. There’s a popular MTV show about it, and the creators talked to CNN about how you can avoid something similar happening to you. Find out more after the jump!

Now, there are people who believe that Manti Te’o was in on this whole hoax, which gained him a lot of notoriety and sympathy at the beginning of Notre Dame’s football season. Manti has since spoken out about it saying that he was duped, and that he didn’t come clean about it when he first found out because he was embarrassed (understandably).

But, there were a lot of warning signs that should have pointed him in the direction of the truth long before he figured it out. He would set up Skype dates and she would always cancel. She asked that he not come and visit her in the hospital when she was sick, and also requested that, if she should die, that he not attend the funeral. To me, all of those things would have been a red flag, but I guess I’ve never been in that situation so I can’t say for sure.

flickr, jordansmall

Here are some of the suggestions the people behind “Catfish” give for getting into an online relationship and considering meeting that person for the first time.

1. Ask to Skype or video chat before meeting.

It’s easy for a person to pretend to be someone else through words and pictures, but it’s hard to fake it on video. If the person seems hesitant or reluctant about Skyping or video chatting, you may want to reconsider meeting them or continuing the relationship.

2. Don’t be scared to stalk

Spend a few hours looking them up online. Check Google, Myspace, Facebook, and Instagram and check them out. There are a few warning signs when looking at these things that could be a pretty good indicator that they aren’t being truthful with you.

  • They have fewer than 100 friends on Facebook,
  • They are a model-slash-something else incredible (e.g. model/doctor).
  • None of their photos are tagged
  • They are talking primarily to a ton of other guys or girls who don’t seem to know them personally.

Another good tool is to do a reverse Google image search to see if their picture shows up next to someone else’s name on social media sites.

3. Dress down

Nev Schulman and filmmaker Max Joseph from “Catfish” told CNN that people are generally very casual when they meet their online crushes, so it’s best to dress down a bit so that you’re not overdressed for the occasion.

Nev and Max had a few other great tips for meeting your online crush (and not getting catfished) which you can find at



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