You hear horror stories – identities being stolen, scams that drain bank accounts, and people who have been catfished. The truth is, social media is a great way to connect, but it can also expose you to a number of dangers. Whether you’re targeted emotionally, financially, or professionally, social media can help hackers, cyber criminals, and other shady people create a real-life nightmare. Here are 7 stories of people who were targeted through their social media accounts.
- Mourning a girlfriend that never existed – A star defenseman for Notre Dame announced that in 2012, his long-distance girlfriend passed away. He thought that she had died of leukemia, when in fact she never existed. ‘She’ was actually one of Manti Teo’s male friends who confessed his love for him.
- Experiment: Luring children – Although this was a test, one individual wanted to show parents how easy it was to lure children into a ‘secret’ meeting through social media. He made a fake profile, posing as a 15-year old boy. With the parents’ permission, he sent friend requests to three girls who were ages 14, 13, and 12. After speaking to them, they decided to meet up. This child predator social experiment is important for any concerned parent to watch.
- Plotting a murder – A teenager known as Marissa Williams was living with her aunt, and when she asked her to stop bringing strangers home – she blocked her. Making a fake profile, her aunt befriended her niece. What she found out was shocking – Marissa was planning on faking a kidnapping after she killed her aunt. She also encouraged her aunt (who she thought was someone else), to kill her uncle, cousin, and dog. After bringing the evidence to the police, Marissa was charged for solicitation of murder.
- Transgender murder – A college football player is said to have shot a transgender woman who essentially catfished him. Although she self-identified as a female, ‘Tyra’ still has male genitalia. When they became involved sexually, it’s believed that Carlton Ray Champion shot her. He has now been charged with life in prison.
- Stolen identity – For almost 3 years, an anonymous individual stole more than 900 photographs from a woman named Ruth Graves. Posing as Leah Palmer, this unknown individual was playing with people’s emotions and minds. It wasn’t until one of Ruth’s friends alerted her that she had any idea. Although the accounts were shut down, they resurfaced shortly after.
- Stalker ex-husband – Using a fake name and profile, Brain Matthew Cornelius engaged in a romantic relationship with his ex-wife online. She began discussing details of her marriage, saying that her ex-husband was abusive and that she wanted to file a protection order against him. ‘Aaron,’ the fake profile, convinced her not to and throughout the course of their one-year relationship, Brain showed up in a number of public places in which he knew his ex-wife would be. She eventually figured it out and filed a protection order – he was charged with stalking.
- A tragic case of befriending – In 2005, a woman named Paula Bonhomme fell in love with a fake male profile – Jesse, an alleged volunteer firefighter who appeared to be perfect. They had grown close and even exchanged gifts which Paula admits cost her around $10,000. Another woman, by the name of Janna, reached out to her saying that Jesse was in love with her. One day, Jesse died of liver cancer and to accompany Paula, Janna agreed to visit some of his favorite places together. She then found out that Janna was responsible for Jesse’s profile and she unsuccessfully sued her.
Winters, J. (2015). 12 Disturbing Catfish Stories That Remind Us How Insane the World of Online Is. ThoughtCatalog. Retrieved on January 24th, 2016, from http://thoughtcatalog.com/jessica-winters/2015/09/12-disturbing-catfish-stories-that-will-make-you-want-to-give-up-internet-dating-forever/