Alan Stanley, a 53-year old from Stratford-upon-Avon was self-conscious about his baldness and lonely after his 22-year marriage fell apart. It was easy for him to download photos he found on Google Images and use them as his profile pics. The photos he used turned out to belong to a model and actor from Turkey named Adem Guzel. Remember that name.
One day at work, Emma lamented that she longed to meet her boyfriend in person, and one of her coworkers questioned her online romance. “How do you know he is who he says he is?”, her coworker asked. “Have you considered that he could be an old man? Or a psycho?” At first, Emma was angry and adamant that her boyfriend would never deceive her. To be sure, her coworker suggested she run his photos through Reverse Image Search.
As their relationship passed the six month mark and Ronnie still refused to meet in person, Emma’s family and friends urged her to cut off the romance. Only then did Emma decide to give the Reverse Image Search app a try. Within seconds, she learned that the photos Ronnie used belonged to a Turkish man named Adem Guzel. Emma confronted Ronnie about it, but Ronnie was prepared. He explained to her that the photos were, in truth, him, but he had once used the stage name Adem Guzel when he tried to launch a modeling career. Emma didn’t fully accept his explanation, even as Ronnie guilted her by asking, “Don’t you believe in us?”
Alan Stanley’s computer crashed so he had to purchase a new one. He set up his personal email address then logged into his faux social media accounts. When he messaged Emma, however, the name that popped up on her end was Alan Stanley. Still Alan didn’t confess. Instead, he told Emma that he bought the computer used and didn’t know how to change the old owner’s name on it.
There began to be too many red flags for Emma to ignore. When Ronnie sent her a picture he allegedly took at an aquarium of a clownfish. Emma put this photo through the Reverse Image Search app and it came up as a Trip Advisor review posted by someone named Alan S. Emma then searched the name Alan Stanley and it uncovered her catfisher.
Finally, after deceiving Emma for more than a year, Alan was forced to confess to Emma what he had done, but he only did so when faced with the overwhelming evidence that Emma presented to him. There were tears and shouts and apologies and explanations that ended their romance.
Emma was hurt and heartbroken and embarrassed and angry and shocked. The catfishing was a crushing blow to her and she couldn’t move past the experience. She was still comforted by the photos Alan used to create Ronnie…the photos of Adem Guzel. Emma located Adem on Facebook and sent him a message. She thought that Adem should know that his online photos were being hijacked and used by a catfisher.
In a town outside Istanbul, Adem Guzel, who was living with a friend because his acting and modeling career was waning, read Emma’s message and felt compelled to respond. The two messaged back and forth and Emma detailed the depth of Alan’s trickery and the level of her devastation. When Emma asked to facetime Adem, he immediately obliged, something Alan, as Ronnie, never did. In time, the communication between Emma and Adem became less about Alan’s betrayal and more about their blossoming feelings for each other.
Emma was certainly not interested in jumping from one catfish scenario to another. And she was done with virtual, long-distance relationships. She invited Adem to visit her in London and he immediately accepted.
Today, Emma and Adem live together in England, enjoying a happily ever after. Emma has learned that, even though Adem is nothing like the fake persona Alan had created using his photos to create Ronnie, he is, nonetheless, her soul mate. Despite the bumpy road and detours, she found what she was looking for in Adem.
When the London tabloids published the story of Emma’s catfishing and her eventual romance with Adem, several other women can forward to say that they, too, had been duped into online relationship with Ronnie by expert catfisher Alan. As a result, Alan endured public humiliation, ridicule from his coworkers and employer, and ostracizing from his family.
Although the pain of Alan’s catfishing still stings, she realizes that it was Alan that brought Adem into her life. It is an ending with a healthy dose of poetic justice. Alan is alone with his shame and the two people he hurt and exploited with his catfishing have found true love with each other.