RETIRED US citizen Michael Morgan has a few words of advice after flying across the Atlantic Ocean hoping to marry a South African woman he met on the internet.
He arrived at Cape Town International Airport to meet the nurse he had fallen in love with after a three-month-long online “relationship”. But it turned out that there was no Caryl Jones. Nobody waiting at the airport when he landed on March 6. He had been duped into making the trip but‚ thankfully‚ had not parted with any money.
“I did not report it to the authorities. I guess I didn’t know which authorities it would be best to report it to and I felt I was chasing a ghost. Literally‚ when the internet is involved‚ Caryl could be anyone‚ posing as someone else‚” he said.
Even though there were red flags that Morgan chose to ignore‚ in hindsight he wished he had paid more attention to them.
Here are some words of wisdom from the 67-year-old whose colleagues warned against being “catfished”. The term is used to describe how people are lured into relationships on the internet by others assuming a false identity.
“If they aren’t willing to talk to you (using an) original email address and try to direct you to a different address‚ it’s probably the first red flag‚” said Morgan.
“Just since returning I conversed with someone who claimed to be American‚ and when I asked her height and weight‚ she replied in cm instead of inches‚ and kg instead of pounds. When I called her on it‚ she didn’t reply further‚” he said.
“Don’t send money to anyone! It has been my past experience that people catfishing will keep up a conversation for awhile and then there will be a pause. When they reply again‚ they will apologise and say they had a family emergency‚ and then ask for some type of financial help. That scenario has happened so many times. I’ve wondered if there was some kind of ‘catfishing manual’ that people were following.
“I will admit to ignoring what could have been red flags. The most recent was on my birthday‚ March 3. I resisted contacting her that day in the hope that she would remember it was my birthday and wish me a happy one‚” he said.
“I feel that when you’re in love with someone‚ you don’t forget important days like birthdays‚ anniversaries‚ especially when the relationship is relatively new. A workmate told me I was being catfished when I told him what my plans were. I told him I would give his advice thoughtful consideration‚ but then ignored it.”