Catfishing stories usually all end the same way. Guy tricks girl into online relationship using another man's identity. Girl wants to meet guy in person. Guy is curiously always just too busy. Girl catches guy in his lie. Girl is devastated.
But Emma Perrier's story ends differently. The Atlantic recently published an incredibly in-depth piece about her experience. The article tells the story of how Emma actually ends up dating the very man whose identity had been originally stolen by her catfisher. He's Turkish supermodel Adem Guzel.
In September 2015, Emma downloaded the popular dating app, Zoosk. That's where she met "Ronnie," a 34-year-old electrician living a mere 100 miles from Emma's London home. I include his name in quotations because "Ronnie" is not real. In reality, he was a 50-something year old balding man named Alan Stanley.
Taking the bait
Emma fell for him. They began messaging each other every day. They spoke on the phone often, but they never met in person or chatted via FaceTime or Skype. Months passed and Emma became anxious to meet her handsome mystery man, but Ronnie always seemed to be too busy.
They dated online for six months before Emma became uneasy enough to upload one of Ronnie's photos to an app called Reverse Image Search, which traces images back to their original source.
That's when Emma discovered that Ronnie's photo was actually a photo of the Turkish heartthrob Adem Guzel. When she confronted Ronnie with her findings, he claimed that Adem Guzel was a name he used to go by.
In August 2016, Ronnie slipped up. The Atlantic reports the man bought a new computer and set his email up using his real name, Alan. Emma soon received a message from Alan, but it curiously sounded like Ronnie. Again, Emma confronted him. He claimed Alan was the name of the person from whom he'd purchased the computer and he still hadn't changed the name.
Emma's suspicions grew. She took a photo of some fish Ronnie had sent her from an aquarium and fed it through the Reverse Image Search app. The picture had come from a TripAdvisor page where user "Alan" had posted it.
Alan's web of lies crumbled and he confessed to everything. Emma was understandably devastated, but she remained in contact with him. She wasn't quite prepared to end the relationship she'd invested so much into.
The Atlantic reports that on November 11, 2016, Alan met with Emma to apologize in person for his charade. But, according to Alan, it wasn't until around Christmastime that "things started to get a little bit sour."
Let's rewind a few months. In September 2016, Emma sent a message to the real face of the modeling photos, Adem Guzel. She warned him about how his likeness was being used online. The Atlantic quotes the message:
"Hello Adem, we don't know each other but a year ago I met a guy online and that man is using your picture and pretends he is you under another name. I wasn't sure if getting in touch with you was a good idea but I needed you to know, kind regards, Emma."
The pair struck up a conversation.
Soon they were FaceTiming.
They fell out of contact for a time while Adem visited a Turkish village with less-than-ideal communication capabilities, but their conversation reignited in January 2017.
On March 31, Emma said goodbye to Alan for good. On April 1, with shaky hands, she picked Adem up from a London airport, nervous anticipation coursing through her veins. And then he was there. The real thing. Face to face. His hands were shaky too.
The rest is history. Better yet, the rest is reality.