Join us on SCAMFISH as our team of Search Specialists helps Katonyia uncover the truth!
ScamFish #1: Catfisher Pretends to be Jim Iyke
Have you ever wondered if someone you met online was really who they claim to be? Katonyia Fernandez met a man named Earnest on Instagram. They began chatting and continued to do so over six months. Their messages were innocent at first. He was handsome and charming. Initially, she told him he was too young for her (he was in his mid 30’s, and she was 55).
However, he continued to peruse and message her, persisting. Although they developed an online relationship, she slowly began to worry whether everything he told her was true or if he was a con artist. She did the right thing and contacted Social Catfish.
Her suspicions arose when some of Earnest’s messages confused her. He would tell her that he was trying to start a travel business and send her beautiful pictures from Paris, France. Then, he’d mention Bitcoin, which she’d never heard of. Later, his stories began to change. He told her that the Nigerian government had accused him of conning or deceiving people and that he’d been to jail.
Next, he said that Sephora was trying to send him a check, but he needed Katonyia to deposit it – on his behalf – to avoid tax problems. He asked her to convert and send the money to him as Bitcoin. This request led Katonyia to consider further the possibility that the handsome younger man she’d grown used to messaging could be a scammer.
Linnie, one of our Social Catfish Search Specialists, began to research Earnest by the full name he’d given Katonyia. No matter how she looked him up or abbreviated his name, no matches were found in public records. That lack of a trail raised the alarm, but an algorithm photo search was even more severe.
A search of some of the (many!) photographs that Katonyia had received showed that the pictures “Earnest” sent were stolen from a famous Nigerian celebrity’s profile. The Nigerian star is called Jim Iyke. Iyke had a verified profile, which proves he was the real deal and that Earnest was a scammer.
Not only were the photographs Katonyia received stolen, but “Earnest” also sent her fake video. While the videos looked convincing, he used stolen video from Iyke, then dubbed his voice over the audio, to trick her. When Social Catfish searched the phone number Katonyia’s scammer had been using, it was linked to an internet phone or VoIP number.
While emotions can run high in these situations, Katonyia was lucky to err on the side of caution and not accept the checks he offered her. If she had, she might have been involved in a money-laundering scheme, without even realizing it! This could have put her at legal and financial risk!
Are you interested in appearing on our show, ScamFish? Let us know your story in the comments. Romance scammers don’t only break hearts, and they also break wallets.
As Katonyia’s story shows, scammers will go to any length to trick you and get their fraudulent payday. Protect yourself and background check your online connections by phone number, email address, photo or profile image, username, or name.