11:08 AM EST, January 17, 2013
The bizarre Manti Te'o story is shedding light on a cruel online phenomenon known as ‘Catfishing.’
A "catfish" is someone online who pretends to be someone else.
The term comes from the 2010 documentary about a man who fell in love with a gorgeous model he met on the internet. But when he finally got to meet the stunning Megan in person, he discovered that she was really a lonely, middle-aged housewife named Angela.
Matchmaker Amy Laurent weighed in, saying, "There are a lot of people on the internet that are doing 'catfishing' for several different reasons. Some have ill-intent and others really are just lonely people, so this is an outlet for them to take over an identity of what they wish they were."
Now, Nev Schulman, the filmmaker behind Catfish, is hosting a show on MTV which is also called Catfish. The show helps other victims track down internet hoaxers.
In one episode, a young girl named Sunny was head-over-heels for a cute guy she met online who called himself Jamison. This person claimed to be an intelligent medical student studying anesthesiology through online courses.
But when they go in search of Jamison, Sunny got the shock of her life. Jamison turned out to be someone completely different: a young woman. After finding out Jamison's true identity, Sunny asked, "Who does that?"
As for the Te’o scandal, the creator of Catfish said he'll get to the bottom of it. He tweeted, “I am working on finding out more about this @MTeo_5 #Catfish story. I have been in contact with the woman involved and will get the truth."