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