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Amusingly, the Nora Ephron movie “You’ve Got Mail” (based off of the 1937 play which makes catfishing older than you’d think) actually treats this as an amusing lark that’s justified because it’s in the name of love.Some people create these fake identities for their own amusement.
Manti Te’o is the current and most famous example; much of the evidence seems to point that he was duped by Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, an acquaintance of his.
This is especially true amongst gay and transgendered individuals who have adopted fake identities online; they don’t have any malicious intent, they just fear the rejection (or in many cases, actual physical danger) that could come from confessing their feelings directly to the object of their affection.
It can be intoxicating when an otherwise “impossible” love feels attainable, even when it’s built on a lie; having to admit to the deception would not only ruin the “relationship” (and thus kill the dream) but also quite possibly torpedo any relationship from the “real” world.
It’s sadly not uncommon for lonely people – especially those who may not be terribly socially experienced – to be targeted by clever scammers who strike up an online relationship and proceed to fish for money.
Things may be going swimmingly until, alas, their Internet beloved has just lost her job… Or they’ve suddenly experienced a major health emergency. the list of perfectly valid reasons why they need money goes on and on.