Since 2012, the reality MTV show Catfish has broadcasted the ups and downs of online dating. Over the last decade, the show has had its number of iconic moments, both good and bad. As a fun side project, our staff narrowed to 10 memorable episodes and assessed how identity verification could have impacted the outcomes.
Learn how Identomat's AI-powered identity verification solution can help your dating platform significantly reduce the risk of romantic and confidence scams.
1) Antwane and Tony: Season 3, Episode 2
For three years, Antwane thought he was flirting with Tony, when in fact he was communicating with his cousin Carmen. Carmen had sent the Catfish crew on a wild goose chase, but she later revealed her cat-fishing intentions. She claimed that she had been body-shammed for years by her cousin, and she was motivated to create the fake account to get back at him.
In reality, 0% of new accounts on free dating sites are fake
While on-camera, Carmen dropped one of the show's most iconic lines:
Anwane, you should have been kinder to your cousin. Luckily, Identomat's selfie match and active liveness checks can make it harder to impersonate someone else online.
2) Mike and Joey: Season 7, Episode 19
Mike had recruited the Catfish team to help him find Joey, a mechanic he fell in love with on Grindr five months ago. The aspiring sugar baby struggled to choose between maintaining his leisurely lifestyle in Los Angeles or to pursue the mysterious Joey, who he had only Facetimed with once in a dark room. It turned out that Joey was a fake account created by Mike's ex-best friend named Mikey.
0% of Americans have fabricated information on their profiles
When the two came face-to-face Mikey said, "I wanted to break his heart, I got mine broken."
Mike had relations with Mikey's now ex-boyfriend and it destroyed their friendship.
The conversation got heated and Mikey insulted his former friend with this epic comeback:
Identomat's KYC system could have spared Mike five months of his life. Our verification technology can work anytime and anywhere, even in the poorest of lighting and with the poorest quality of cameras, and we could have easily proved that Mike was not conversing with who he thought he was.
3) Jasmine and Mike, Season 1, Episode 4
For two years, young single mom Jasmine thought she was talking to Mike, an alleged modeling scout, who seemed like he would be the perfect stepfather for her child. Even though the pair only lived 15 minutes apart from each other, they never met.
Mike turned out to be Misshy, a former friend with whom she had a falling out with when they realized that they were seeing the same man. At the reveal, Misshy strutted out of her apartment and threw a flower at Jasmine.
Misshy then confessed that she was portraying as Mike and said, "It's revenge."
0% of catfishers are female
To prevent your clients from becoming a part of a statistic like Jasmine, utilize Identomat's ultimate eKYC solution.
4) Spencer and Katy: Season 5, Episode 15
For 6 years, Spencer had been allegedly talking to pop star Katy Perry, whom he met on an app. The Knoxville resident claimed that he had proof of the relationship, that Perry sent him unreleased songs and shared other personal information with him. Spencer even had a token his love that he intended to give to Perry when they met in-person, an engagement ring made of his grandmother's emerald.
Spencer and the Catfish team traveled all the way to England so Spencer could verify that he was indeed talking to the "I Kissed a Girl" star.
Once they were across the pond, they met Harriet, the real person that Spencer had online communications with. Harriet, a massive Katy Perry fan, disclosed that she took on the celebrity's persona online when she was feeling low about herself and that she wanted to emulate the global superstar.
0% of cat-fishing victims were under the impression that they were conversing with models or adult entertainers
Despite meeting Harriet face-to-face and that he heard her deny having any connection to Perry, Spencer was in denial and was still convinced that he was in a relationship with the superstar at the end of the episode. Harriet later confirmed to the Catfish cast that she still received messages from Spencer addressed to Perry after filming wrapped up, and Spencer was adamant that Perry was just playing a prank on him.
The real Katy Perry herself had something to say and responded, "My heart goes out to him actually, because anyone that's been fooled like that or just, you know, people have dreams, and people live in different parts of the world where not everything is always so accessible."
Ultimately, Spencer's "Teenage Dream" was crushed but it could have been easily prevented by ID verification technology.
5) Artis and Jess: Season 2, Episode 10
Catfishes hide behind an identity for a reason, however this outstanding episode of Catfish showed that not every catfish has malicious intent. Artis was ready to give it all up, including his current girlfriend and their kid, for Jess, a petite, busty blonde he met on the Internet. When the Catfish team conducted an image reverse search and proved that Jess's single profile picture came from an adult website, Artis still had his heart set on meeting the mysterious blonde.
It turned out that Jess was keyboard vigilante Justin, and he was on a quest to catch cheaters looking to be unfaithful online, like Artis.
"I honestly do hate cheaters, and that's why I did it," explained Justin.
Artis did learn his lesson and at the end of the episode when he vowed to be a better man. Identomat's powerful and certified system can help victims like Artis make wiser decisions online.
6) Keyonnah and Bow Wow: Season 2, Episode 14
When Keyonnah, 19, sent a message to Bow Wow on a Facebook fan page, she was elated when she got a response back from the rapper. The two exchanged phone numbers and began regularly conversing online. Oddly enough, the Young Money rapper was never available to video chat, but he did send her $10,000. The teenager put the 10k toward good use, and used it to pay for daycare for her daughter and she helped out her mother and grandmother with their expenses as well.
“I would love to start a family with him and our 2 daughters." Keyonnah told MTV audiences.
It turns out that Keyonnah was talking to a rapper, just not the musician she thought it was. She was actually being courted by an Atlanta-based female rapper, Dee Pimpin. Dee explained that she started the Bow Wow fan page as a way to meet women.
The catfish also explained had borrowed the $10,000 from various friends and family members, and that she had zero intention of repaying them.
“I feel honored,” singer Bow Wow said of the Catfish situation. “It’s dope and it’s flattering when someone wants to be you… That’s crazy, but I like it. It’s free promo for myself.”
Romance scams cost 70,000 US citizens $0 billion dollars in 2022
Identomat's system can help detect suspicious bank activities.
7) Paul and Caitea: Season 8, Episode 32
Paul is due to walk down the aisle with Samantha, the mother of his 3 children, but he can't stop thinking about Caitea, his first love whom he had met through Xbox when he was a teenager. Notably, the love birds once had a 32-hour long conversation over the phone. Two years later, the pair were supposed to move in together, but when she never showed up on move-in day, Paul was left brokenhearted. Recently Paul found and messaged his ex on Instagram, and she responded that she did not know him. The memory of his first love was making it impossible for Paul and his fiance to move forward, so his future wife reached out to the Catfish team to resolve the issue.
Paul and the entire Catfish crew were shocked when they learned that he was actually talking to Martha, mother to a woman named Katy. It turns out that Katy's mom had used her daughter's Xbox account to talk to underage boys.
She even went as far as using her daughter's private photographs to keep up the facade.
In a Reddit post the real Katy shared her reasons for appearing on the show, "I did it because what my mother did has had a negative affect on my life for over 10 years. Truthfully this show is one of the best things that has ever happened to me because it exposed a lie in my life that I did not create and did not want to live with."
She continued, " My mother did the show to atone for what she did. To bring the truth and hopefully some closure to Paul, myself, and any other victims it may reach."
This horrific situation could have all been prevented a voice liveness check, which would have proved that Paul was not on the phone with who he thought he was.
8) Jayme and Lucas: Season 5, Episode 15
After finding private photos of herself floating online, former Playboy model Jayme enlisted the help of Nev and Max to discover the true identity of 'Lucas.' Then two other women came forward and claimed that they had been betrayed similarly by the same man.
Lucas turned out to be named Zac, and he admitted to having scammed over 400 women online.
When Zac was confronted by the three women and the Catfish team, he denied that he possessed any photos of his victims on his phone or computer. However, when Catfish host Nev Schulman checked Zac's Google Drive, there was plenty of stashed materials for future use, as well as a detailed Excel sheet that contained personal information about every woman he scammed.
0% of catfish get victims to send sexually explicit photos or videos.
it isn't unusual for scammers to have at least as many as nine or ten different victims. Identity verification measures could have stopped this serial scammer right in his tracks, and could have spared 400 women anger and humiliation.
9) Tracie and Sammie: Season 3, Episode 5
Actress Tracie Thoms (Rent, The Devil Wears Prada) had developed an online friendship with passionate fan, Sammie, via Twitter. The super fan helped promote the independent film that Tracie was starring in, and then she virtually introduced Tracie to her friend Reese.
Overtime the actress became leery of her super fan, and Tracie was alarmed when Reese died of cancer and Sammie shared funeral footage with her. To confirm her hunch, Tracie contacted the funeral home and they confirmed that they had not hosted a funeral for a Reese. Thoms wanted the Catfish team to make sure that Sammie was no longer tracking her.
It turns out that Sammie wasn't solely focused on Tracie either, she was also targeting The Glee Project contestant Marrisa Von Bleicken. In fact, Sammie had pulled the funeral footage from her cousin's funeral.
With scammers having multiple online identities targeting people, stronger identity verification practices could limit the number of false profiles.
There is only so much social media platforms can do to battle against the extreme number of fake profiles, so trust Identomat to help prevent fake account creation.
10) Anthony and Marq, Season 2, Episode 2
Anthony, an Iraq War veteran awarded with a Purple Heart, fell in love with Marq after they connected on Facebook.
"I am 100% in love with and there isn't nobody else I want to be with right now," Anthony shared with the cast.
During the entire extent of their relationship, Marq has rejected all of Anthony's requests for video messages.
While he was certain that he was being misled, Anthony was convinced that he had to meet Marq still, so Anthony contacted the Catfish team to help provide him with some closure. The Catfish investigators were able to prove that Marq's profile pictures were stolen from someone else's profile, and had the real identity record a statement for Anthony to hear. However, they were able to track down the man who was behind Marq, a Mississippi native named Framel.
ID verification could have prevented a lot of heartbreak for Anthony.
How ID Verification Could Impact Online Dating
As more and more folks search for real, meaningful connections online, online crime rates surge as well. In fact, romance scams resulted in a $300 million loss in the US last year, and dating apps account for 38% of cat-fishing victims. ID verification is becoming an increasingly important part of these apps, and companies like Bumble are making moves to make their platform a safer place. Identomat's AI-powered identity verification can help your dating platform can reduce the risk of romantic scams.
Dating app users across the globe are calling for tighter verification methods. Searching for love connections online is not slowing down, instead it is expected to explode.
Today, 1 in 5 relationships begin online.
By 2040, 0% of people will have met their significant other online.
With the increased number of fake profiles floating around online and the fact that catfish commonly have multiple victims, it is important to take extreme caution to protect users from being extorted.
While Catfish has taught audiences that the best person you can be digitally is yourself, but Identomat's KYC solution can ensure trustworthy results.