“Pamenepatu ofunika chinkhoswe basi achimwene!” was the message I promptly sent my friend “ujeni” a month ago after he’d whatsapped me a picture of his new girlfriend.
“I’m head over heels for this girl” he continued. “She’s educated, has a good job and she’s very beautiful – every man’s dream!”
“Pasavute, tikwatire zimenezi basi, kukula sayimbira maseche!” he bragged like a spoilt brat.
After telling me her name I quickly went to her Facebook profile and found out that indeed this in-law was amazing (at least online) and out of this world. A beauty Queen, no sane man can resist.
However, after I got back to my senses the Thomas Didymus in me kicked in and I asked him to prove that they’re a couple. He accused me of jealousy, a thing I denied and it took me less than a minute to show him that the love of his life, *Amanda Mphande,* does not exist.
As I thought, a simple Google search provided links to several websites where whoever is behind this account downloads pictures of random models to upload to this profile.
My friend eventually admitted that they were not exactly dating but had been flirting for a while and were almost an item. I was like ‘nkhani koma imeneyi’.
Apparently he never suspected anything because they have hundreds of mutual friends and her profile seemed legit – she’s active and all.
However, he found it odd that she never picked up his calls and had never agreed to meet him in person despite the fact that they both live in South Africa. I was like you, my friend, have been catfished. Lucky enough he hadn’t sent any money or gifts yet, so he claimed.
My other friend Alick met another Amanda Mphande on Facebook and started flirting. The two of them then shared numbers and continued their flirting escapades through to other social networking forums such as whatsapp.
They could speak all day everyday and everything seemed right and real to my stupid friend. They became love birds flying together in their imaginary world. He could send her air time and listened to her telling her sweet nothings. Alick was in love, I could tell.
One day, Alick decided to meet up the love of his life for the first time. She was forthcoming and so cooperative as her feelings were seemingly mutual. My friend, Alick had to arrange for the girl to visit him in Lilongwe where he lived and worked. He sent her transport money.
His girl, I was told lived in Blantyre.
“Abraz, koma lero nde mudya bwinotu!” I quipped as we set out to the bus depot to pick her up. I was jealousy, somehow.
Alick drove so fast that he didn’t even bother stop on red traffic lights, rushing to the depot to pick my friend’s ‘angel’ from the bus terminal.
We go there before the bus arrived. And a few minutes later, the bus we were waiting for arrived.
It was a moment of truth for all of us. For Alick, it was the time to welcome his new found love and for me it was time to see my much talked in-law. We waited for all the passengers to alight from the bus but there was no woman that befits the description of our visitor.
We thought she had played pranks on us. “Watimwetsa madzi ometera amwene mkazi amaneyu!” I yelled with utter disappointment.
“Zosatheka amwene, mkazi ameneyu sangatipusitse, ndathoka naye akunyamuka,” Alick replied confidently adding; “Akubisala ameneyu, akufuna atiwone ngati titababayike.”
I kept quite. I didn’t find it funny.
Panicking, he dialed his phone to call the woman we were dying to meet to find out where she was.
The phone rang only once and she quickly picked it. “I can see you my dear, am right behind you.”
We turned our heads to look at a woman behind us. She was not what we expected. She was ugly, old and never fit the bill of a woman we’d come to pick. We had been fooled.
She was a catfish.
“When is your next bus back to Blantyre?” asked Alick, matter-of-factly.
“Sweetheart, I don’t understand what you mean?” she asked.
“There is nothing to understand, I am simply asking you what time you are going back to where you came from. Look, I don’t have time to waste, I came here to greet you and so I have, so have a nice trip back,” said Alick heatedly.
We left quicker than we came leaving the ‘catfish’ there hands akimbo, mouth agape.
A catfish is someone who pretends to be someone they’re not using Facebook or other social media to create false identities, particularly to pursue deceptive online romances – urban dictionary.
The term has its origins in the 2010 movie ‘Catfish,’ a pseudo-documentary about a young man’s long-term online relationship with a woman that turned out to be very different from her Facebook profile.
The movie was followed by an MTV reality show of the same name and it explores the truths and lies of online dating.
There are so many Amanda Mphande’s on the internet and they have different agendas; you have women that create fake profiles in an effort to catch their cheating husbands, some are lunatics who simply have too much time to kill and maybe get a kick out of fooling people, others, the more serious ones, take it up a few notches and try to con people out of their hard earned money.
They look like like Beyonce but meet them in person, you will regret to ave been born a human being.
Ever received a message that goes like; “Hi, just browsing through your profile here and I find your profile interesting and I would like to know more about you if you don’t mind. I’m searching for a man who can share my dreams and who is willing to make our dream come true. I am faithful and caring. You can get to chat with me on email@example.com?
Now this might sound silly and utter rubbish but millions of US dollars are stolen every year worldwide through scams like this so clearly people do get suckered. Marriages have been wrecked; jobs and life savings have been lost all thanks to online scams. Some even commit suicide after realizing that they’ve been duped.
There are many reasons why people fall for these scams- desperation, curiosity, greed, gullibility, loneliness, and I wouldn’t want to call anyone retarded (no offense to the mentally challenged) even though I do believe ‘stupidity’ plays a big part.
Having said this, look at Amanda Mphande’s page, you will see prominent lawyers, successful business persons and bankers fighting for ‘her’ attention (akafufuta kachetechete after reading this LOL).
Situations like this have a negative effect as victims seldom come forward for fear of being ridiculed so the scam goes unrecorded and others don’t learn about it. Awareness is our biggest weapon in fighting catfish. Wakutsina khutu ndi mnansi – the more people are aware of them, the fewer victims there will be.
And its not only women playing these game, there are scheming thirsty and libidinous men out there who are playing the same game. Be careful with the scammers rampaging online.
And remember, when someone online seems too good to be true they usually are. Trust your instincts,
Run, run, run and run. RUN!
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