A few years ago, two teens were attending University of Virginia.
Jackie wanted Duffin, but he didn’t return the affection.
So Jackie invented a buy named “Haven Monahan” who began texting Duffin and claiming to have feelings for Jackie.
In Sep 2012, Jackie told Duffin that while on a date with Haven Monahan, she was gang-raped by several upperclassmen.
The story went viral, University of Virginia’s name was dragged thru the mud, Rolling Stone Magazine wrote a sensational article about rapes on college campuses.
After a lengthy, expensive, and exhaustive investigation by the university, VA police and others, it was determined that no rape occurred; no one named Haven Monahan had ever attended UVa.
In short, a teenage infatuation upturned several lives, launched several court cases and has potentially ruined several lives.
The practice of inventing fake online personas to validate or test the intentions of a lover or dethrone a romantic rival is known as “catfishing”.
Duffin isn’t the 1st victim of catfishing, nor will Jackie be the last catfisher.
Page 100 of UNPLUGGED has several examples of catfish victims, and MTV has a popular show of the same name that showcases this growing practice.
As we approach Valentine’s day, I strongly urge you to have a conversation with your middle school/high school/college kids about catfishing.
Teach them that catfishing is NOT a harmless joke – it could land them in jail, or worse.
And teach them to be skeptical of what they read online, the texts, tweets, snapchats and digital come-ons they get.
Not every pretty girl is who she claims to be.
Not every Romeo will sweep you off your feet.
Some of them may be an ex out to break your heart; others may be professional crooks out to drain your back account.
Wear your heart on your sleeve, fall madly in love, and above all, TRUST BUT VERIFY.
Be well, stay safe, do good in the world.