Someone is posing as this UoB graduate on Tinder, and manipulating their matches
The catfish is emotionally manipulating their victims
Somebody is posing as a former UoB student on Tinder, building fake online relationships with other Birmingham students and young adults.
The people who have matched with "Charlie" have been emotionally manipulated and have revealed a lot of personal secrets.
Charlie Messenger, who graduated in 2017, told The Birmingham Tab that he became aware of the problem "nearly two weeks ago", but it's since "started to escalate".
"My suspicions were first raised when my ex messaged me on Facebook. She was asking things like 'Why are you stalking me? It says on your Tinder that you're only 1km away.' But as I live hundreds of miles away, I knew this wasn't true – although I tried to deny it, she didn't believe me."
A few days later, Charlie explained how he received "a message from random UoB student, who thought she was being catfished. I had shared a link to my dissertation stuff a few months ago on my Facebook, but the catfish had gotten the topic wrong, and something didn't seem right to her."
A few days later, another girl messaged then messaged him via Instagram, having found his actual profile, and compared it to the fake one the catfisher had set up.
"And then, a couple of days after that, yet another girl messaged me, asking me to explain why I'd deleted our conversation and unmatched. I told her what had been happening, but she was still understandably upset."
It isn't just women who have been victims of the fake-Charlie account. A guy in the Worcester area also matched with it, and was similarly angry.
"Whoever is doing this is building up extremely intense online relationships – some of the people had opened up about things like mental health, things that they hadn't even told their friends about, only to find out it wasn't real. And it's a repeat pattern – I only know about eight victims for certain, but God knows how many others."
The freelance photographer told The Birmingham Tab how the catfisher had gone to extreme lengths to pose as him; "They'd found out so much, much more than would be immediately available. They know the lengths of previous relationships, the modules I've done, where my friends go to uni, and what they study. And they're using pictures from Facebook, but not just the first pictures to come up – they've gone through albums from traveling and things like that."
When asked whether he had any suspicions as to who it might be, the former Philosophy student replied, "A few. I'm definitely starting to build a picture. Someone who matched with the catfisher saw that a fake instagram popped up, which has since been removed. But they were following a load of people from Worcester Sixth-Form College, which makes me thing that they're from the area."
More than anything, Charlie says that he feels frustrated. "I'm not not sure as to the motive, but I have this burning curiosity to find out who it is. I'm annoyed that the Instagram account got deleted, as I had this great plan to try and catfish them back."
Although there is a level of ambiguity as to whether or not catfishing is in fact illegal in the UK (it depends on its effects upon the victims), it does directly contravene the terms of service of almost all social media platforms, including Tinder and Instagram. However, both Charlie and the other victims have had serious problems reporting it on Tinder, for as soon as anyone caught on, they were immediately unmatched and the profile was lost.
Statistics suggest that at least 10 catfish incidents occur each day in the UK, and with 71% of dating site users believing that people misrepresent themselves online, this incident is a further indication of a seemingly widespread problem.
If you have been a victim of catfishing on Tinder, report it via their website here.