Warning: the post is explicit and may cause anxiety attacks
Catfishing, to those of you who are not familiar with it, happens when someone creates an online identity (or identities, to some extent) to trick someone into an emotional relationship.
Unlike others who fell in love with someone using a fake online identity, my story was different. I was not tricked. I was not scammed. I did not meet the culprit and thankfully, nothing serious happened to me but I was greatly traumatized by this incident in 2018.
This entry wouldn’t have materialized without the issue of Jzan Tero with Sam Morales on Twitter. Whilst reading the entire thread, I couldn’t help but recall how distressing my experience was. The trauma was too much to handle that I haven’t had the chance to tell this one to my close friends. But now that I have mustered enough courage to do it, I’m sharing my story with the world.
2018 wasn’t exactly the best year for me. At that time, my grandfather just died due to a heart complication, I’ve had issues with my health, and work-related tasks were getting out of hand because of multiple ongoing projects.
I used gay dating/messaging apps sparingly during those times because admittedly, I simply don’t have the luxury of time to do it. But one day, this person (see photo below) messaged one of my colleagues at work through the Grindr app.
My colleague reached out to me on our internal messaging platform and said that my boyfriend is waiting for me downstairs, at the building lobby. I felt weird about it because I told him that I do not have a boyfriend and have been single since late of 2017. The person kept insisting to my colleague that he’s waiting downstairs to meet me. I had to open my Grindr app and see for myself. I really don’t have any idea what’s going on – am I being pranked by another friend of mine? If yes, then this prank is definitely not a nice prank at all.
As soon as I opened the Grindr app, I got a message from this “FUNtastic” person, and here’s a translation of what happened (for my non-Filipino readers):
- FUNtastic (F): Hi bb
- Me (M): ?
- F: Miss u bb. I waited for you last night. I was talking to your office mate
- M: Huh?
- F: Yes
- M: Who are you? I neither know you nor I remember you
- F: Don’t you love me anymore? After everything, you became like that. You even denied me to your friend.
- M: I don’t really know you, okay? I will report you to the building admin if you don’t stop. I don’t even have a partner.
The person didn’t stop there and went on by revealing some details about me (fyi, this information is available on my LinkedIn and Facebook before I turned my account private):
- F: Why will you report me? Don’t you want to admit that I became your partner?
- M: When did we become a couple, assuming that we did? And what is my full name and what are my details that you know?
- F: Do you want me to tell it one by one?
- M: Go. I dare you.
- F: Your course was Development Studies at De La Salle (University). You already worked for many BPO companies. Your dad is a seaman (seafarer). You went to St. Mary’s for high school. You became an exchange student at Chulalongkorn (University). Your brother just graduated from ICS (Immaculate Conception Seminary).
- M: Of course, you’d easily know those things through my social media account. Again, when did you become my partner? I don’t remember meeting you ever at all.
- F: You don’t trust me at all, do you? Do you have a monthly period now?
- M: Again, when did you become my partner? I know I had one last time and I’m sure that was not you.
- F: After you tasted me? Of course, you only had one partner last time because you didn’t have two. Haha. I will go there to pick you up.
- M: Again, when you become my partner? I need (the) exact dates. Also, if you were my partner, how come you don’t have my number? All of my partners have my mobile numbers.
I thought he’d finally stop because he didn’t reply for a couple of minutes. I have already sent a report to the building admin and to the security team about the incident before going home. That night, since I was working following the U.K. time, I usually get out of work around 12AM, I actually couldn’t get home by myself. I was scared that someone might just show up and harass me. I had to call my family for help and asked them to fetch from the office.
The next day, this freak messaged me again and started harassing me more. He said he’ll send a photo of me having sex with him to my mum. I didn’t flinch and dared him to do it because I’m confident that I don’t ever let anyone take a photo of me whilst having sex:
- F: That’s why it will go loose (he’s talking about why my ass would be loose by now)
- M: Oh, why don’t you answer my questions? Ah, right! It’s because it’s not true. Haha. You’re busted, sir. Also, I’m not a bottom. Son of a bitch.
- F: You’re a son of a bitch, too! Haha. Let’s have sex again?
- M: You’re trying to trick me, you son of a bitch? I have your picture with me. My colleague sent it to me. Don’t you ever come near me because I have already reported you to the authorities! And for once, I don’t do casual sex with just anybody. Look for others whom you can fool.
- F: They cannot stop me. I will go there. No? You’ve already tasted me, haven’t you?
- M: If we got together, send a photo that we are together. Son of a bitch! Don’t you ever fool me, you’re just wasting time.
- F: I’ll send a photo whilst you’re sucking my dick? You keep cursing – that’s bad. Shall I send it? The one where you ate my cum?
- M: Send it. Go. But you don’t have a decent picture of us being together. Too bad! You’re busted, sir. I blew up your cover and discovered you’re fake.
- F: Shall I send it to Tita Sally (my mum)?
- M: Go, send it. I can even go with you!
- F: You’re crazy! Why are you mad? I already went to your office to pick you up last night?
- M: Are you nuts? Why would you even pick me up, I don’t even know you in the first place? Who are you? I don’t even know your name. You can’t even say when exactly we got together, and yet you keep saying you are my boyfriend? Are you crazy?
- F: Yes – crazy for you! Why do you keep cursing? Your mouth needs some cleaning! I’m already here (saying that he’s at the office lobby once again)
The following day, he still messaged me through the app – “Hi bb (gesturing something about fucking in the ass)”, “Afternoon bb”, “Bb miss your asshole”, “Blow me bb, I’ll pick you up…” but I didn’t engage with the person anymore after filing a police report.
Thankfully, my work setup allowed us to be agile and flexible and so my manager encouraged me to start working from home after the first two incidents. Honestly, I wanted to “block” the account from messaging me but the police officer advised me to keep the account open and active so there will be enough evidence if anything happens to me. After a few days, the account just died and the person didn’t bother me. I’m relieved that the incident didn’t continue for days (or weeks), or else I don’t know where I’d find myself anymore.
My family thought it’s one of my ex-boyfriends in the past but I actually don’t have any bad blood against them and we’re in good terms; civil, at the very least. I don’t know who in their right minds would dare do this but I have an idea about who it could be but I’m not dropping names without enough evidence on my hands. I’m also sure that the photo they used for this wasn’t theirs (see photo below) and I feel bad about whoever owns this picture.
This tremendously affected how I was performing at work. I didn’t want to touch my phone. I didn’t want to interact with anyone for days. You know, I never thought I’d report back to the office anymore because of the fear that somebody might just show up and do something nasty to me.
On a personal side of things, it also affected how I connect with people. My dating life got skewed because I had trust issues with everyone. For a couple of months, I didn’t want to meet anyone from the online world. I had to deactivate my social networks for weeks. My friends didn’t know what was going on because I didn’t want to come forward and tell them – I was too afraid, in shock – and I felt sorry about it.
This could happen to anyone out there, regardless of their orientation, background, affiliations… and it can cause a lot of distress to anyone. For those of you who easily overcame a similar situation, good for you! But to those who have to go through and are going through a difficult time processing things, please know that we’re here to help you and we understand where you are coming from.
With that, let me end it here by mentioning some of my key takeaways:
- Whilst it’s okay to engage with people you meet online, you have to make sure that you’re talking to a real person. About how you’d find out about that, I’m not so sure, but always give a second (and third, and fourth…) thought if somebody looks and feels too good to be true.
- When interacting with someone, never ever over share about you or about your family, especially when you just started talking to each other. This can be very difficult to control because you’re torn between opening up to this person you want to engage with and keeping yourself some privacy on the side. You have your judgment – you have to own it and use it wisely.
- I urge you to check what’s posted and written on your social media accounts. Ensure that you’re not sharing too much important information publicly, such as your location, birthday. Trust me, it’s not going to be worth it.
- Always have your emergency contacts ready. May it be your family, friends, significant other… you have to make sure you have easy access to their contact information if anything bad happens to you.