The internet is going mad with the story of Casey Donovan, the 25-year-old reality TV star who fell in love with a mysterious male voice on a phone line who turned out to be a woman named Olga.
Confused? So were we.
Casey was 16 when she was first contacted by a person called Campbell. She was on tour with Australian Idol as a finalist in 2004 when she got a call and they struck up a friendship that segued into romance. The only catch? Casey never met Campbell in person, not once. Every time they organised to meet, he made up an outlandish excuse and a woman called Olga turned up in his place.
Six years later, Casey figured out that her boyfriend “Campbell” was Olga all along. She found a SIM card on Olga’s bedroom floor that matched Campbell’s number.
Let’s just pause momentarily to consider how shattering that is: That’s six whole years of Casey’s life stolen by a con artist preying on the hopeful vulnerability of a teenager.
Olga’s extravagant heartlessness in sustaining a lie like this for so long is quite breathtaking. But it’s not rare. In fact, what happened to Casey is so common it has its own name – Catfishing.
A “catfish” is a person who pretends to be someone they’re not using Facebook or other social media to create false identities, particularly to pursue deceptive online romances. Or in Casey’s case, a woman who used a telephone and put on a deep voice.
The term was coined from a 2010 documentary called Catfish, in which a 26-year-old dude called Nev Schulman (pictured), falls for a hot 19-year-old girl called Megan on Facebook. Suspicious when Megan wouldn’t meet him in person, Nev tracked her down… Only to discover that he’d been sending sexy messages to a mother using her estranged daughter’s online profile to seduce men.