Love at first swipe
One of my guilty pleasures is MTV’s Catfish. Based on the documentary of the same name, the show has spent six seasons hunting down identity thieves who are looking for love. The two hosts (Nev and Max) take on the cases of people who have met someone very special online. The catch? They aren’t sure if the person is who they say they are. Nev and Max some detective work (Googling, mostly) and try to get the two online lovers to meet in person to see if they’re for real.
If you’ve never seen the show, then you don’t know that it usually ends really badly.
Shockingly, that isn’t always the case… Or, at least, this particular catfishing story has a much happier ever after!
Living in London in 2015, French-born Emma was finally getting over a bad break up. She found it hard to met men around her because she worked long hours and didn’t like going to bars and clubs. So Emma, 33, decided to do what 91 million people around the world do: Join a dating app. She settled on the Zoosk, which is available in 72 countries.
“I’m a romantic. I love to love,” she told The Atlantic. “And I want to be loved too.”
After downloading the app, Emma got a message that night from a dark-haired Italian named Ronaldo “Ronnie” Scicluna. The problem was that Ronnie was a 34-year-old electrician in England’s West Midlands, which is about 100 miles away.
With Zoosk, you can look at someone profile, but not read messages until you pay for a subscription. After gushing over his handsome photos, Emma decided to fork over the money to see what he written to her.
Ronnie would try to type Emma messages in Frech. She would try to type to him in Italian, which it turns out he didn’t speak.
The two started chatting everyday on WhatsApp, and she was seriously crushing. Emma was also mystified at the fact that someone like him was interested in someone like her.
“I’m very natural,” Emma told The Atlantic. “I mean, I’m nothing. I’m very simple you know… so I was flattered.”
He wrote: “As soon as I saw your picture I wanted you.”
But it turns out, as you probably already guessed, that Ronnie wasn’t real.
The Real Ronnie
Ronnie was made up by Alan Stanley, a short, balding, 53-year-old English man. Why do this? He said it was to prevent himself from getting hurt. So he made Ronnie in the handsome alpha male he felt he was not.
“I was in a pretty lonely place,” he revealed. “I wasn’t feeling the most attractive of people, I might say. You know, I always struggled with self-confidence and… I was going through a messy separation and I was just feeling like I needed somebody to talk to.”
Alan had stolen photos of a model from a Google image search. In his defense, he said that, “catfishing is prevalent across the internet. Everybody does catfishing.”