Jessica, looked for dates on the app, but was also wary, having seen every episode of the MTV show Catfish. “I’ve encountered guys lying about a vast amount of things – their age, where they live, claiming that they are single, posting pictures taken 20 years ago – why guys? How do you think you will ever be able to start a long-lasting relationship based on lies?” asks Jessica.
She went on a few dates and even had an unsuccessful three-month relationship. Jessica was a bit despondent after all this, but decided not to give up hope.
Then, Alan popped up.
“He was very polite and seemed so nice right from the start. He introduced himself and asked me how I was doing. General chit chat,” says Jessica. But then he wanted to go from chatting on OKCupid to Whatsapp very quickly. His excuse? He was rarely on the app.
“I figured ‘what could that hurt?’, so I gave him my cell number. The next day I noticed that he must have unmatched with me on OkCupid. His profile was gone. A week passed by without him messaging me, so I figured he had found someone else or changed his mind.”
But then, Jessica received a “good morning” message attached to a picture of Alan where he looked like he had just stepped out of a photoshoot - this was about a week later.
Alan told Jessica he had been sick and that’s why he hadn’t been in contact.
“I figured, okay maybe he had been sick - let's give him a chance. I asked him the basics - where he lived, what he did for a living, made sure he was single - he didn't answer. Instead, he sent me a strange video clip from an old movie,” says Jessica.
“Not giving up, I asked again thinking he might have been busy and forgot to reply. He apologised and eventually did answer my questions. All lies of course.”
By this point, Jessica’s spidey sense was tingling and she was suspicious. So she decided to do a little research. “I googled his cell number to see if anything came up and there were two comments saying he was a scammer/catfish that robbed houses,” she says.
She then did a reverse image search on Alan’s pictures. She found a very real Instagram profile for a man with over 54k followers. Many of this man’s older images were ones that Alan was using on his OKCupid profile.
Now Jessica was mad, but someone had tried to catfish her before, so this time she decided not to let it go. He was going to learn.
“I played along and made up crazy lies about myself. I even told him I was a hacker in my spare time. This was all part of my master plan, but first I wanted to find out what his actual scam was,” says Jessica.
Alan eventually called her on Whatsapp, after a month of lies, including his mother falling ill and then dying, and tried to scam her out of some money.
“Within two minutes of us chatting, he told me that the caretaker of his house in Sandton had been in an accident. He needed me to transfer R4 700 into her bank account.”
“He, of course, could not transfer the money since he was overseas and would pay me back as soon as he got back to SA. I played along and asked for her banking details. He sent them and needed me to do an immediate payment,” says Jessica.
This is when she went in for the kill and sent him a Grabify link. Grabify lets you track someone’s IP address, location, device and service provider by way of a dummy link.
Jessica sent Alan to a website with pictures of Table Mountain. He clicked the link and she managed to find out he was in Pretoria and not the Bahamas like he said.
“I then constructed my final message to him, giving him a piece of my mind and letting him know that I now have all his information. Hopefully showing him that he is not anonymous and that I could make his life very difficult if I wanted to. I blocked him before he could reply,” says Jessica.
Jessica says she hopes Alan is now shaking in his boots with worry that somehow he will be found out, but she doesn’t really intend to do anything with the information other than educate other women.
But will she ever try online dating again?
“Yes, but not yet. I need some time to shake off this bad energy he has left behind. I do however, never plan to use a free site again. They have proven to be more dodgy than I am willing to deal with. I'd rather pay a subscription and have the guys vetted for me in future,” says Jessica.
Have you been scammed online? How did you deal with the situation? Share your story with us here.