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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

When A Catfish Targets You

 



In 2003, My Space became a social networking phenomenon.  It was a new and exciting social experience for the World Wide Web. Friendships were formed, romances blossomed and unfortunately, it became a breeding ground for Catfishing. My Space was  where I encountered a Catfish who was not only impersonating me, but attempting to make money off of my modeling photos.



Like many at the time, I was new to social networking. It was a trial and error experience. In those early days, I made my profile public. I added anyone who sent me a friend request.  I used my full legal name. I also posted many photos of my family, whom I am very close with (like most Latino Families). It all very quickly spun out of control. 

It was brought to my attention that there was another My Space account listed under my name. It used all of my photos, including  the photos of my family. I was horrified to see pictures of my nieces, both who were under the age of 10 years old at the time, with crazy and inaccurate captions. The fake profile was not only talking to guys in a flirtatious manner, but was offering to sell them photos of me. There was also an XBOX account linked with the profile. The XBOX account claimed I was a Russian mute who was having a leg amputated in an upcoming surgery. 

 

I was notified by an online friend that all of these shenanigans were taking place. I reported the Catfish account to My Space and it was shut down. I also reached out to the person who was "waiting" for the Catfish to sell them photos of me (they claimed photos were never sent). I called XBOX to ensure my debit card information wasn't being used for the online account. It was not, however XBOX would not tell me who the account really belonged to. 

This crazy experience taught me a lot about what I should and should not post on social media. I began using an alias. I no longer post family photos to the public (with the exception of a photo I shared a few years ago when I was raising online funds for my grandmothers funeral). I am very strict on who I add to my personal Facebook account. 

Funny enough, the MTV show "Catfish" is one of my favorite programs. It's fascinating to find out why people become a Catfish in the first place. I never did find out who was impersonating me to Catfish others. A man did come forward and claimed it was his niece however his explanation was so bizarre , I suspected it was really him all along. 


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Instagram & Twitter: @victoria_avalor


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