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Case Study: Catfishing

Catfish /’kat, fiSH/ – to lure someone into a relationship by means of an online fictional persona.

Words with new meanings are popping up all over the place. For example, the word catfish is also a verb used in connection with an online profile that stretches the truth or is fictitious. However for most people, the word “catfish” conjures up images of a bottom-dwelling fish with whiskers. Little did we know, that is exactly what our client found.

The Situation

SG is a prominent Atlanta artist who recently began dating a man, Phillip, that she met online. He positioned himself as a wealthy businessman with tales of extensive means and lavish properties. He claimed to be part of owner of two Atlanta-based companies and SG had seen him use a credit card with yet another company’s name. He further touted his substantial financial situation by listing rental properties that he owns in the Atlanta area.

Phillip spoke of his generosity to his ex-wife. Their eight-year marriage ended three years prior and they had no children of their own. He claimed to have paid his wife a very hefty settlement, as well as continued to support his step-daughter and her family with housing, vehicle and a monthly stipend until she approached him about purchasing a larger house for her and her family.

The Investigation

SG knew something wasn’t adding up and with Hawk PI’s help, she discovered the catfish – literally and figuratively. Hawk PI’s background investigation uncovered not only gross exaggerations of his financial standing but also discovered parts of his past that he omitted. Phillip was never involved with the two companies he had mentioned but was involved with three other companies, all of which were dissolved in 2010. He had never owned any properties, rental or otherwise.

Phillip did fail to mention his startling criminal and civil background. Between 2000 and 2012, he had 17 civil cases filed against him and owed more than $1M in unpaid rent and credit card debt. He also left out pending criminal cases where he was charged with theft by taking in two different cases of $30K and $22K.

More Fish in the Sea

SG was able to uncover the truth with Hawk PI’s evidence. She believed that Phillip was most likely after her money. SG was able to see who Phillip really was and break any and all relationship ties and communications with him.

The prevalence of online dating has grown, and it has increased the likelihood of this type of deception. Anyone can create an online profile to make themselves more of a catch but you never know who you are really talking to. A simple background check can reveal a wealth of information about a person and can help to ensure your safety and security in this digital dating pond where, unfortunately, catfish do exist.


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