Most of you are likely familiar with the term “catfish” thanks to the popular TV show inspired by the real experiences of one Nev Schulman. For those who may not know, Urban Dictionary defines a catfish as “someone who pretends to be someone they’re not using Facebook or other social media to create false identities, particularly to pursue deceptive online romances.”
I’d like to think that catfish are rare and that the majority of people are decent human beings, but alas, this is not the case. This deceit happens much more often than we realize and can involve multiple victims at a time.
In fact, one of our coworkers recently told us about his unfortunate experiences with catfishing and his story is absolutely mind-blowing.
This is 33-year-old Aundrus Poole.
Aundrus is a marketing manager for a clothing line called Buy Me Bruch out of Austin, TX. He recently spoke with theBERRY about his issues with online catfishing and to say we were shocked is an understatement.
As a result of his undeniably attractive features, Aundrus’s photos are often used by internet trolls to catfish unsuspecting victims.
These are just a few of the many fake profiles that use Aundrus’s photos under an entirely false identity.
Aundrus suspects that there are hundreds of these accounts in existence and that they span worldwide.
“I have personally come across about 120 fakes so I can only imagine what I don’t find. Not to mention they do this all over the globe. I’ve been sent profiles from at least 10 different countries,” Aundrus said.
“If I had to guesstimate I’d say at least 500 and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was way higher,” he added.
Aundrus typically discovers these fake profiles after being contacted by victims.
“I’d say 80% of the time the girl who’s being catfished finds my real profile through a Google image search or they post me on their social as the ‘Boyfriends’, and someone tags my real profile,” Aundrus said.
Tinder and dating apps like it are the biggest culprits, even though the real Aundrus says he’s never used them.
“Another way I find the fakes is when they create phony online dating profiles using my image. For example, Tinder, Bumble, and tons of other sites that I’ve heard of and never been on,” Aundrus explained.
Unsurprisingly, people are dishonest on Tinder quite often—whether they’re providing false information or concealing their current relationship status. According to a recent study conducted by GlobalWebIndex, 42 percent of people using Tinder are already in relationships.
Some of the catfishers have even made passes at women that Aundrus knows.
“One time they attempted to hit on my good friend’s wife using another name,” Aundrus said.
Several of these fictitious accounts even use pictures of Aundrus’s nephew to manipulate women into thinking he’s a devoted single father.
“Many of the catfishers steal pics of my nephew and pose as a single dad struggling to make ends meet,” Aundrus said.
Unfortunately, many women have actually been tricked into sending money to these scam artists.
“I’d say in the last two years is when I noticed it was out of control and they begin scamming victims out of money,” Aundrus explained.
According to statistics from the multi-agency Internet Crime Complaint Center, online dating scams — at least the ones that were reported — cost Americans more than $55 million in 2012. Imagine that number now…
In addition to these financial losses, several of the women felt betrayed and heartbroken when they learned the truth.
“Often the woman are in love and have developed real feelings for my image and they become attached based on the dream sold to them by the scam artist.”
Aundrus told theBERRY that multiple women had become so involved they thought they would be getting married, “It’s almost like breaking up with someone when they find out the truth. A girl once told me that she talked to the catfish me for over 6 months.”
The worst story by far came from a woman who believed she was engaged to Aundrus.
When the woman contacted Aundrus, she was absolutely devastated to learn that the person she had fallen in love with wasn’t real. This particular scammer went so far as to rip Aundrus’s vocals from a video on his real Instagram account and re-record them to say, “I love you _____.” (Out of respect for her privacy, we’ve redacted the woman’s name.)
“When this lady contacted me she was completely heart broken. She was crying telling me that I said ‘I love you _____’ and I tried to explain that it wasn’t me and the scammer had a foreign accent and I don’t,” Aundrus said. “She had been scammed out of over $2,500 and was on the verge of selling her SUV to send the scammer more money. She was planning her future around the lies he told her.”
What kind of monster would go to such lengths for a quick buck? It’s despicable.
It’s unsurprising that with all of these phony accounts out there, women are skeptical of the real Aundrus.
Aundrus says most women think his real social accounts are fake and will ask him for some form of proof.
“Often they want me to send them pics touching my nose or with a piece of paper with their name.”
After hearing about his horrific experience, we’d like to help Aundrus set the record straight. Behold, the REAL Aundrus Poole’s Instagram account.
Yes ladies, this is the real deal.
Moral of the story; the next time you come across a profile that seems too good to be true, it probably is.