dating

Ashley and Mike catfished each other for seven years. This is what happened when they met.

14 years ago, Ashley Sawyer met Mike Fortunato in an online chat room.

It started innocently enough. Ashley, a self proclaimed hermit, was just an awkward 13-year-old looking for a friend. Mike was much the same.

Over the next seven years, Ashley and Mike’s relationship blossomed from a close friendship to something more.

And then the lies began.

For the first six years that Ashley and Mike were talking over texts and phone calls, Mike never showed Ashley a photo of himself.

But she never questioned it.

Mamamia’s daily news podcast The Quicky speaks to the ABC journalist who broke the story about catfish Lydia Abdelmalek. Post continues after audio.

When she went on MTV’s reality show Catfish, however, everything changed.

Hoping to meet up with Mike in person, Ashley showed hosts Nev and Mike the three photos Mike had sent her over the course of their relationship.

Immediately, Nev and Mike noticed something was fishy.

The photos were incredibly old school – think frosted tips, oily six-pack abs and shirtless photos – they were so obviously fake.

But Ashley was so caught up in her own lies that she never noticed.

You see, Ashley had been catfishing all Mike along as well.

Although Ashley had been sending Mike photos of herself, she had been heavily photoshopping the shots.

Despite learning that they had both been catfishing each other for years on end, the couple decided to meet up in person on the show.

catfish mtv
Ashley and Mike met for the first time on MTV's Catfish. Image: MTV.

"Maybe him not looking like a Ken doll will make me feel more comfortable," Ashley said as she travelled to meet Mike.

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"I don't care, I just hope he's the same person."

But after chatting online for seven years, their relationship simply didn't translate offline. While Mike was in love and ready to settle down, Ashley realised she wasn't attracted to Mike.

Although Ashley decided not to pursue a relationship, the pair remained friends with Ashley even travelling to meeting Mike's family.

But now, six years after their time on Catfish, Mike and Ashley are both dead.

Just a month after their Catfish episode aired, 26-year-old Mike unexpectedly died following a pulmonary embolism.

Following his sudden death, Ashley told MTV that Mike was "the most honest, loyal person I'd ever met in my life".

Three years later, in 2016, 23-year-old Ashley passed away following a suspected drug overdose.

On a reunion special of Catfish prior to her death, Ashley had shared that she was struggling with addiction and living in a sober-living facility.

Posting to Twitter following the news, Catfish hosts Nev Schulman and Max Joseph shared their condolences.

"Such a beautiful and strong young woman. Honoured to have known her," Nev wrote.

"So sad to lose both Mike and Ashley. I hope they are happy and together now where nothing can hurt them."

MTV also released a statement.

“MTV is deeply saddened to learn that Ashley Sawyer has passed away. Our condolences, thoughts and prayers go out to her family and friends.”

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